450 families displaced from Shingal following fierce clashes

Duhok, October 8, 2021: The Ezidi IDPs at the camp of Sharia for the internally displaced person IDPs. Ammar Aziz

By Ammar Aziz

Over 450 families were forced to leave their houses to escape fierce confrontations between the Iraqi army a militant group affiliated to Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK in the war-torn Shingal west of Ninewa province, local officials said.

On May 2nd early in the morning, the first day of Eid, troops of the Iraqi army attacked two points where Ezidkhan Asayish, part of Shingal Resistance Units Yabasha (YBSh) were deployed in Sinuny sub-district of Shingal. Two were killed and 12 were injured from both sides, sources affirmed to KirkukNow.

Askandar Mohammed Amin, director of the Duhok migration and displaced department of the Iraqi ministry of migration, said up to May 2nd evening, 450 families have arrived to Duhok from Sinuny.

“Following legal, administrative and registration procedures, they will be placed in Duhok camps where we have enough space yet they are still free if they want to live out of the camps,” he added.

They will be placed in Duhok camps where we have enough space

“What is important for us is that we will provide all their necessities.”

Those families have spent years under tents in the camps for the internally displacer persons IDPs of Duhok Northern Province following the attacks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS which took over large swathes of Iraq in Auugst 2014 including Shingal and Ninewa province.

The district of Shingal, 120 km west of Mosul, administratively affiliated to Ninewa province, and part of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil, is home to over 300,000 Ezidis.

The Ezidi community constitutes 30% of the 664,000 Internally Displaced Person IDPs in the adjacent Iraqi Kurdistan Region, while the fate of more than 2,000 Ezidis is still unknown after they were abducted and enslaved by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in August 2014.

Shingal, May 2, 2022: An Ezidi civic activist at the center of Shingal calls for peace following last weeks’ clashes. From Social Media Platforms

Khudeda Chuky, mayor of Sinuny said hundreds of families left Sinuny to Shingal and Duhok.

“Now the situation is calm but we are not sure what might happen tomorrow. We believe this is a new plan by Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan Democratic Party to enforce their agreement,” he added.

The pro-PKK fighters have secured a safe escape for the Ezidis back in 2014 when extremist militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS stormed Ninewa province and took large swathes of Iraq.

Later in 2015, Yabsha and Asayish Ezidikhan played an important role in restoring the district from the grip of ISIS. A large part of the Yabasha forces is affiliated with the Shiite paramilitary of the Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, including payrolls.

Yabsha and the Ezidkhan Asayish forces, which are close to the PKK, which is fighting Turkey since 1980s and holding territories in Iraq, are under the authority of the Autonomous Administration Council in Shingal which administers Shingal though not recognized by the Iraqi government and the KRG.

Since the end of the war against ISIS in Iraq late 2017, there have been continuous disputes between the Iraqi army and pro-PKK forces in Shingal, escalated to armed confrontations as the army seeks to impose its influence and control over the region.

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.

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

According to the content of the Shingal agreement concluded between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG in October 2020 to reorganize the administrative, security and service file in the Shingal district, the local police, the intelligence service and the National Security Service, in coordination with the security forces of the KRG will be assigned to manage the security file of Shingal while the armed forces of the federal government will be deployed in the outskirts of the.

As for the forces close to the PKK and the PMF, they will not be given any security or administrative role in the judiciary, and they must evacuate the area.

The fighting lasted till the evening

At the early hours of May 2nd, the Iraqi army has attacked Ezidkhan Asayish in Sinuny to control it and the Asayish confronted, said Khudeda Alias, Chairman of the Autonomous Administration Council in Sinuny sub-district of Shingal district.

“The fighting lasted till the evening. One of our fighters were killed and a soldier of Iraqi army. One of our guerillas was injured and 12 of the Iraqi army,” he added.

The residents of war-torn Shingal call for pacification following end of April prisoner swap between the Iraqi army and the pro-PKK groups which resulted in cautious stability since latest clashes resulted in casualties in both sides.

On the 18th and 19th of April, armed clashes erupted after an army force asked pro-PKK Ezidkhan Asayish members to evacuate a military post near Sinuny sub-district of Shingal. A fighter of Yabsha was killed three injured, in addition to the injury of 21 soldiers of the army Iraqi army and three civilians.

“The Iraqi army is sending more troops to Shingal every day. Today they have deployed a new unit today in Shingal with heavy weapons: 20 armored vehicles and 40 Humvees,” Alias affirmed.

“Their aim is to implement Erbil-Baghdad agreement by force in Shingal in order to oust Ezidkhan Asayish in Sinuny and Shingal. This is unacceptable and we will fight to death for our land and people of Shingal,” Alias vowed.

Despite efforts for truce, both parties agreed on ceasefire yet stability have not been resotred yet.

“Today evening, al-Hashid (PMF) and other parties have interfered and the problem is temporarily solved and the two points taken by the army were surrendered to Ezidkhan Asayish but the fighting and tension have not come to end yet.

Following Monday clashes, a group of Ezidi activists organized a demonstration in the evening calling for peace and putting an end for fighting at least in residential areas.

The Shingal agreement was hailed by the Iraqi government, the KRG, the Unites States and the United Nations UN yet it was firmly rejected by the pro-PKK Autonomous Administrative Council in Shingal - which has been formed since 2019 by the various components of the Shingal with the aim of managing the security and administrative issues of Shingal.

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