Mid-night to dawn curfew imposed in Shingal (Sinjar)

Ninewa, 2020: Iraqi army unit deployed in Shingal district. KirkukNow

By Majid Al-Abaji in Ninewa

From twelve midnight until six in the morning, the local administration of war-torn Shingal district of Ninewa province declared a night curfew effective from March 16th to further notice for security reasons.

The ban circulated by Shingal polcie command cover pedestrians, motorists and stores as the statement called on the locals to abide by the instructions and stay at home except for humanitarian conditions.

Observers in Shingal say that Iraqi security forces were lately targeted by bombs fired by the groups affiliated to Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK, namely Shingal Resistance Units YBSh (Yabasha).

Three days ago, a security point in Shingal was attacked by a sonic bomb, ofrcing the local security forces to ban a partial curfew to evade escalation. The locals are unsatisfied with the turbulent security, hope that the latest targeting will be the last security breach in the province.

Some neighborhoods in Shingal witness violations against security points, such as the Shuhada neighborhood and Azadi in the middle of the district.

Security officials in Shingal accuse the "PKK" of fabricating these targets in order to discourage it from establishing security in Shingal and the success of the normalization process adopted two years ago per Shingal agreement between Baghdad and Erbil to restore stability, and urge the return of the locals displaced to camps of Iraqi Kurdistan region IKR, a process not materialized yet.

"The people want Shingal to be secure and inhabited, and most of the citizens have complied with the directive, and they hope that what comes after will be a turning point in the district," said a resident of Shingal anonymously.

Shingal witnesses internal and external security breaches from time to time, such as the Turkish bombing of pro-PKK sites.

Shingal district, famous for its agriculture and minerals, home for the Ezidi (Yazidi) community with a percentage of Arabs and Kurds, is located 110 kilometers west of Mosul, the center of Ninewa province.

Yabasha and Asayish Ezidikhan are considred close to the PKK which is fighting Turkey since 1980s and holding territories in Iraqi Kurdistan region and the disputed territories.

Last February, the Brigadier General Atheer al-Rubaie, commander of the 20th Division of Iraqi army deployed in Shingal district, on February 11th appeared in a video holding an Iraqi flag surrounded by soldiers in military uniform, threatened people of Shingal (Sinjar) to crush any one that hangs photos of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of Kurdistan Workers Party PKK, a video widely circulated on social media platforms and sparked protests.

Ahead of these late tensions, an Iraqi army unit deployed in war-torn Shingal has withdrawn on Friday following tensions with supporters of militant groups affiliated to PKK.

The Iraqi government sent members of the regiment from Mosul to two areas in Shingal following the events of December 12, when clashes erupted between an army detachment and a number of demonstrators who took to the streets to condemn the Turkish bombing of the area, and the clashes resulted in the burning of an Iraqi army Humvee vehicle.

Shingal district is administratively under Ninewa province and part of the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad. ISIL militants overran the town since August 3, 2014, before it was recaptured on November 13, 2015.

The pro-PKK groups then played a role in securing a safe passage for the vulnerable Ezidi community to escape Islamic ISIS atrocities mounted to genocide, toward Mount Shingal and IDP camps in Northern Duhok province where still thousands prefer life under tents and plain shelters to life in war-devastated hometown.

Yabasha fight against ISIS has paved the road for Shingal residents show support for the groups, while accusing Iraqi and Kurdish forces of turning their back to them to face IS atrocities by themselves.

There are more than eight different armed groups within the borders of Shingal district, including the pro-Iran Shiite paramilitary PMF, Ezidikhan Asayish (security), Yabsha, the local police, the federal police, the Iraqi army, the Ezidkhan Peshmerga and the KRG Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) forces.

Turkish fighters from time-to-time launch air raids targeting Shingal district and Makhmour camp in Nineveh, which caused civilian victims, including children, targeting pro-PKK factions.

Early February, Turkey bombed several areas in Shingal, one of which resulted in the complete destruction of one of PMF bases.

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