Iraqi army's deadline for pro-PKK groups in Shingal over

Pro-PKK Ezidkhan Asayish (security) on alert to face Iraqi army troops in Shingal on March 11, 2021. Phot0 by Ibrahim Ezidi.

Ammar Aziz

The Prop-PKK administrative council in Shingal denied its security forces called (Ezidkhan Asayish) to leave the town per Iraqi army request which set March 26th as deadline.

Ezidkhan Asayish has not deserted its offices. Iraqi security delegation has arrived in Shingal on Friday to meet the military wing of the autonomous administration.  

Shingal Autonomous Council told the Iraqis in a meeting on March 12th the issue of its armed groups is political not security which requires a legal frame work not military. They passed a letter to of 13 points to Iraqi army whom promised to raise it to the senior commanders.

The Iraq government plans to deploy its troops in Shingal Mount to replace YBSh.

"Leaving our bases and handing it over to Iraqi army is red line and will not allow them to deploy in Shingal Mount," said Qasim Khalaf, co-president of Shingal autonomous council.

"Leaving our bases and handing it over to Iraqi army is red line and will not allow them to deploy in Shingal Mount,"

"Senior Iraqi officials promised to solve the issue of Ezidkhan Asayish and Shingal administration yet on the other side they threaten us and set deadlines," he added.

Khalaf told kirkuknow in the last meeting with Iraqis, he told Iraq's national security adviser the chief commander clearly "Asyish will stay and won't leave."

Shingal Autonomous Administration Council, a local civil administration founded few years ago and close to Shingal Struggle Units YBSh, pro-Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK (Kurdish rebel group fighting Turkey and occupying northern Iraqi territories) in Khanasor northwest of Shingal. Ezidkhan Asayish, meaning security forces in Kurdish, has about 1,000 fighters and is part of YBSh in charge of the security in the area.

Ezidkhan Asayish denies leaving Shingal based on demand of Iraqi government as a part of the plan to put Shingal agreement between Baghdad and Erbil into effect. Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region Government KRG agreed to appoint a new mayor and jointly provide security by a unit of 2500 local volunteers in order to oust other militias in particular pro-PKK troops yet the “Shingal agreement” signed in October 2020 is not effective yet.

The complex texture of the security and administrative situation in Shingal is an aftermath of ISIS reign and a source of concern of the Ezidi community in general and in particular for those returned home in hope of leading a normal life post ISIS trauma.

Shingal, located 120 west of Mosul, centre of Nineveh province, on the border of Iraq-Syria, is home to the Ezidi religious minority and one of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

When Shingal and almost one third of Iraq was taken over by so-called Islamic State ISIS in August 2014, Iraqi troops backed by Kurdish Peshmarga and pro- PKK fighters' ousted ISIS in October 2015 and deployed in the region.

In the Ezidi-dominant region of Shingal, only three thousand square km, Baghdad federal and Erbil regional governments compete to establish their rule: three local administrations want to administer the district, and eight different security forces are deployed.

The militant groups are pro-Iran the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, Shingal Protection Units (YBS) which are pro-PKK, local Police, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and KRG's Ezidkhan Asayish and Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter).


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Iraqi federal government troops downtown of Shingal district in 2020. Photo by KirkukNow.

President of Freedom and Democracy of Ezidkhan Omer Salih said one of their demands to the Iraqi side was to set up local administration and units under whatever name.

Shingal administration which embraces some Arab tribe chieftains says it has come as a will of the locals and it represents them. On March25th emergency meeting, it has come to a decision in its statement to "defend its achievements and protect the town and its people from any attacks by Iraqi or Turkish army."

Khalaf recalls that it was them who shed blood for Shingal Mount when Daesh stormed the region. "Except YBSh and Ezidkhan Asayish, we do not believe in any other forces and will not allow any other foreign troops to deploy in Shingal Mount, a religious site for us. Even if the Iraqi government insists, we will defend ourselves and will not surrender our will to any forces."  

"Except YBSh and Ezidkhan Asayish, we do not believe in any other forces and will not allow any other foreign troops to deploy in Shingal Mount

Occasionally confrontations arise when Iraqi government attempts to implement Shingal agreement and ask the militias to leave the center of the town.  

On march 12th, Tensions erupted between Iraqi army and police forces in Shingal and Pro-PKK demonstrators protesting the decision of ousting their "Ezidkhan Asayish"  from Shingal.

Iraqi government insists to put Shingal agreement into effect. Last week, Iraqi joint operations commander Tahsin al-Kahafji said all articles of the agreement will be implemented on the ground without giving further details.

A source in the Iraqi army in Shingal anonymously told KirkukNow they have received no instructions to oust pro-PKK groups from Shingal and there is no any military activity.

"Though today is the deadline, yet the situation in Shingal is calm and no military activity in the area," said Natiq Alo, Shingal local police spokesman. "So far, there is no any new agreement between Iraqi Army and Ezidkhan."

Turkey-PKK tension is a concern for Ezidis of Shingal as the Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in northern Iraq. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed end of January to attack Shingal at any time in pursuit of groups affiliated to PKK based in the region.

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