Ezidis displaced for third time following army offensive against armed group

Ninewa, May 2nd, 2022: Hundreds of Ezidi families fled Sinuny to Shingal and Duhok after bloody battles between the Iraqi army and militant groups affiliated to Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK. Social Media

By Ammar Aziz in Ninewa

Ahmad Hasan is an Ezidi resident of Khanasur complex of Sinuny sub-district which is part of the war-torn Shingal (Sinjar) district, west of Mosul. He has left his home town on May 2nd with his family members in fear of the latest clashes between the troops of the Iraqi army and the militants of the pro-PKK Shingal Resistance Units Yabasha (YBS).

Hassan has been displaced three times in eight years due to the instability and tensions in the predominantly Ezidi region.

“Frist, we left in fear of Daesh (ISIS), later due to Turkish shelling and now because of Iraqi army and Yabasha fighting,” Hassan grieved. “The Iraqi government has to put an end to the misery of Ezidis in Shingal.”

At the early hours of May 2nd, the first day of Eid al-Fitr, troops of the Iraqi army with heavy weapons supported by warplanes attacked two points of Ezidkhan Asayish, part of Yabasha, in Sinuny. Two were killed and 12 were injured from both sides, sources affirmed to KirkukNow.

About 750 families have arrived in Duhok Northern Province, part of them joined the camps for the internally displaced persons IDPs and others are in town, figures by the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG ministry of interior show up to May 3rd evening.

Hassan was one of the families who fled Shingal in August 2014 to escape atorocities by the extremist militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS which mounted to genocide against the non-Muslim Ezidi community.

Frist, we left in fear of Daesh (ISIS), later due to Turkish shelling and now because of Iraqi army and Yabasha fighting

The militants group affiliated to Kurdistan Workers' party PKK provided a narrow safe escape for the civilians to Mount Shingal and from there to the IDP camps in Duhok where still thousands of Ezidis live in tens of camps under tents, reluctant to return to the war-ravaged region.

The decades-old Turkey-PKK conflict is a concern for the people 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 2021 to attack Shingal at any time in pursuit of PKK-affiliated groups based in the region.

Hassan, returned home in 2016 but due to Turkish bombing of the groups close to the PKK, he left home again.

Everybody is messing with the destiny of Shingal and its people per his will

“I left the camp again and made it home but this time and due to army and Yabasha fight, I am now in Cham Mishko camp in Duhok. Is it fair to be displaced three time? Everybody is messing with the destiny of Shingal and its people per his will,” Hassan desperately said.

“We have not got a tent yet and we are not sure if we are going to stay for a long period here or the Iraqi government is going to sort out the issue of Shingal.”

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.

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, 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.

Ninewa, May 2nd, 2022: Hundreds of Ezidi families were forced to leave their houses and join IDP camps for the third time in few years. Social Media

Hassan Haji, resident of Dugry compound in Sinuny where the fighting erupted between Iraqi Army and Yabasha, said he left home 2 pm on May 2nd. “The roads were either cut or so jammed that we made it to Duhok at 8 pm.”

Normally the trip is about 150 kms, three hours drive by car.

Haji left the IDP camp and returned home in 2019.

“When we left home and on our way to the camp, I recalled some images of 2014 when we escaped Daesh war,” Haji recalled the bitter memories.

Hassan along with 30 members of his family are in Duhok, waiting for aids from the government such as tents, food and other basic needs.

“I demand deployment of Iraqi official troops only in Shingal. If the troops are not disciplined, it will lead to a disaster.”

In the Ezidi-dominant region of Shingal, only three thousand square kilometers, Baghdad federal and Erbil regional governments compete to establish their rule following the claimed defeat of IS in 2017: three local administrations want to administer the district, and eight different armed groups are deployed.

I demand deployment of Iraqi official troops only in Shingal. If the troops are not disciplined, it will lead to a disaster

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 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.

The Ezidi civilians have been the fuel for the fighting and disuptes that has claimed lives and lead to destruction.

Dyan Jafar, the director of migration and displacement of the KRG said it has received 700 families from Shingal, about 4,083 people up to May 3rd and has distributed aids with support of charity NGOs.

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 solution for the problems of Shingal is very hard because many political parties and forces are deployed in the region beside regional intervention,” Minifa Yousef Bakir, a women civic activist from Sinuny believes.

“I believe displacement is not one of the solutions so it is better for people of Shingal and Sinuny to stay at home.”

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