Yazidis in Sinjar fear instability as Turkey pounds Iraqi Kurdistan region
Residents in Sinjar are concerned about further instability after the Iraqi army clashed with a Yazidi militia believed to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Monday, with many fearing that this skirmish might be linked to Turkey's Operation Claw Lock launched against the PKK in Metina, Zap and Avasin-Basyan areas of the Iraqi Kurdistan region early that day.
"Clashes erupted after the Ezidxane Security Forces in the Dokuri compound of the Sinuni district in Sinjar refused a request by the Iraqi army to evacuate a checkpoint in the area," a well-informed source from Sinuni told The New Arab on condition of anonymity.
"The clashes lasted for an hour and two civilians were wounded. Residents of Sinjar and the surrounding areas fear an escalation into a full-blown battler between the Iraqi army and the Ezidxane forces."
Islamic State (ISIS) militants took over Sinjar in August 2014, a Yazidi-majority district along Iraq's north-western border with Syria, after the Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga forces retreated, leaving the Yazidis to experience a genocidal campaign of killings, rape, abductions and enslavement by the ISIS militants.
Subsequently, the Yazidis established the armed Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), with the help of the PKK to defend their vulnerable community. Ezidxane Security Forces are affiliated with the YBS, which is part of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
This is not the first incident in which the Iraqi army and PKK-affiliated forces have clashed. Several YBS commanders have also been killed in previous Turkish drone attacks on northern Iraq.
The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed a deal in October 2020 to normalise the situation in Sinjar. According to the deal, YBS forces should withdraw from the city, but the agreement has not been carried out so far.
The New Arab contacted Iraq's Joint Operations Command spokesman Major General Tahsin Al-Khafaji, but he was not immediately available to comment.
Meki Amedi, a Kurdish opposition activist has claimed that Iraq green-lighted Monday’s Turkish cross-border operation into the Kurdistan region.