Members of the Yezidi force outside Shingal. Rudaw photo.
By Nasir Ali
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region - The Shiite militia formally known as the People’s Mobilization Forces appears to be strengthening its foothold in the Yezidi town of Shingal by recruiting Yezidis and paying them money, an official told Rudaw.
The encroachment of the Shiite militia in the area goes against official Kurdish policy against the move.
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani asked the Peshmerga minister last month to stop all militia activities in the area, but a Yezidi official says that a number of young men from the religious minority have registered to join the Shiites.
He said that the Shiite militia had already given out the first salaries to the new members in the Shingal area last month.
Meanwhile Haider Shasho, head of the Shingal Mobilization Force, told Rudaw that his force of Yezidi recruits is becoming more popular in Shingal and that no one has tried to dismantle it.
“People constantly join us; they like to join our group,” said Shasho.
The Kurdish military formed a Yezidi force shortly after Shingal fell to the Islamic State (ISIS) last August, but Erbil has not been able to pay members of the force.
“If these people do not get paid I won’t be able to stop anyone from joining the Shiite militia,” said the Yezidi official, on condition of anonymity. “I can’t even stop my own brother.”
He urged Kurdish military authorities to formally integrate the young Yezidis into the Kurdish Peshmerga and provide financial support to prevent any further defection to the Shiite militia.
“These people are all from Shingal, they are displaced, they live in terrible condition and they need money,” he explained.
Shingal, a predominantly Yezidi town, was devastated after ISIS stormed the town and unleashed a campaign of murder, looting, rape and abducting women for sex slavery.