Shingal (Sinjar): Iraqi army removes statue of pro-PKK commander

The site and the moment of removal of the statue of Zardasht Shingali, a commander of YBSh, which was supposed to unveiled today in Shingal. Photos were posted on social media platforms

By Ammar Aziz

The Iraqi army removed a statue of a former commander of a militant group scheduled to be unveiled on Saturday, January 15, in a special ceremony.

Zardasht Shingali, vice co-president of the Shingal Resistance Units YBSh, was killed with three other fighters - all of them from the Yazidi component - in a raid by Turkish warplanes targeting one of their headquarters on January 15, 2020.

Azad Hussein, co-chair of the Autonomous Administration Council in Shingal, told KirkukNow, "The statue had been erected in the center of Sinjar district by the Autonomous Administration Council, and it was scheduled to be unveiled in special decrees, but a force of the 20th Division of the Iraqi army took down the statue last night."

“The statue was not smashed, they just took it down from the place where it was to be erected, and the statue was not damaged,” Hussain added.

Azad stressed that "there are some differences between us and the Iraqi army regarding this issue and we are about to address it. The people of Sinjar and the Autonomous Administration Council insist that the statue be placed in that place."

few days ago, Major General Jabar al-Taie, commander of West Ninewa Operations told Iraqi semi-official TV in a televised interview that Shingal agreement has been followed since December 1st 2021, and the Iraqi army units are deployed in town to replace non official armed groups.

“West Ninewa Operations’ command is in charge of (Shingal) district center assigned to Unit 20 and brigade 72 of the army,” al-Tai said.

YBSh and several other forces close to the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK, fighting Turkey and holding territories in Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR and the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil, were formed and stationed in Shingal district, home to the Ezidi (Yazidi) community, of Ninewa province, and its outskirts since 2015, following the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant ISIL.

Although some of those forces withdrew in 2018 from most of the areas of Shingal to the outskirts, Mount Shingal and Syrian territories under an agreement with the Iraqi government, but some of the YBSh forces are still present in the area with the approval of the Iraqi government.

December 12, a demonstration was organized in Sinuny sub-district of Shingal to condemn the Turkish bombing of the area led to tension, resulting in the injury of an Iraqi soldier and a number of civilians.

The demonstration came after the Autonomous Administration Council in Shingal decided to stop working hours in government departments and non-governmental organizations in the district, due to the continued bombing of Turkish planes and "the silence of the Iraqi army and government regarding the continuation of these attacks", which angered the Iraqi government.

Ninewa Investigation Court has issued arrest warrants two protestors from Shingal under the anti-terrorism law, while more than one source confirmed that the reason was their participation in a demonstration to condemn the Turkish bombing and the publication of a book.

The Autonomous Administrative Council founded years ago by several Ezidi (Yazidi), Arab parties and other components is administering Shingal region on the ground and is considered close to the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK, which is fighting turkey since 1980s and holds territories in Iraqi Kurdistan region and the disputed territories.

The administrative Council though not recognized by the federal government in Baghdad or the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government KRG is backed by the locals supporting pro-PKK groups: Ezidkhan Asayish (security), Shingal Struggle units YBSh and YPZh (Women Protection Units) based in Mount Shingal. Ezidkhan Asayish (security) has about 1,000 fighters and is part of YBSh, in charge of the security in the area.

End of October 2020, the fighters of YBSh withdrew from their bases and offices in Shingal to the outskirts in order to deploy Iraqi federal police according to Shingal agreement between Baghdad and Erbil. Part of them has joined regiment 80 of pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces PMF.

In October 2020, the Iraqi government and the KRG signed the Shingal Agreement aimed to reorganize the security and administrative sectors in the district, under which local police, national security and intelligence run the security of the town, while the Iraqi army forces would be deployed in the suburbs yet it has not been fully implemented up today.

The agreement was hailed by Baghdad, Erbil, USA, United Nations and Ankara as it leaves no excuse for any militia including the PKK to stay in town.

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

The militant groups are PMF, YBSh and Ezidkhan Asayish which are pro-PKK, federal and local Police, Iraqi army and the Kurdistan Regional Government's KRG Peshmerga.

Shingal district is located 120 km west of Mosul and is administratively affiliated to Ninewa province while the district is considered part of the disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil.

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