MESOPOTAMIA NEWS JOINT FRONT CONTRA KURDISH PKK – Iraqi army detains over 20 members of PKK-affiliated group in Sinjar

Halgurd Sherwani  December 27th 2020   11:12 – An Iraqi army soldier patrols the Yezidi(Ezidi)-majority town of Sinjar (Shingal),

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) –  27 Dec 2020 – The Iraqi military launched a detention campaign on Saturday evening in which it arrested over 20 members of an armed militia affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the disputed district of Sinjar (Shingal), a group fighting a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey.

The group, part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and known as the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), reportedly attacked the army with stones during a protest.

The incident comes as a group of YBS demonstrators erected tents to protest a recent agreement between the federal Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to reorganize the security and administration in the Yezidi(Ezidi)-majority district of Shingal. A key provision of the plan focuses on ousting militias, namely groups connected to the PMF and the PKK.

An informed security source told Kurdistan 24 that the Iraqi army had detained “23 members of the PKK-connected YBS” as well as taking control of two of the group’s offices.

According to the source, the detainees were demonstrating in civilian clothes.

PKK commanders in the area contacted Iraqi army officials in Shingal to press them to set the detainees free, the source revealed, but their request was refused.

“They will not be freed unless they leave Shingal,” read the statement.

Iraqi army recently made a substantial comeback to the area for the first time after 17 years, removing flags of a patchwork of militias flown across the district.

Iraqi security forces claimed previously that the militias had already evacuated the center of the city of Shingal and stationed in its periphery. Soon after, Kurdistan Region Peshmerga officials disputed claims that such an evacuation had taken place, saying that they had instead only changed into both civilian clothes and Iraqi army uniforms.

Islamic State militants took control of Shingal in 2014 when the extremist group attacked the town, committing mass murders and sexually enslaving hundreds of women.

After being liberated by Iraqi, PMF, and the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces, the town witnessed a relatively calm period before it entered a new phase of insecurity after the Kurdish forces withdrew from the area as the result of attacks from the other two forces in response to the autonomous region’s 2017 independence referendum.

A significant portion of the Ezidi population is living in displacement camps in the Kurdistan Region.

Editing by John J. Catherine