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LIVE UPDATES: Rojava Peshmerga and YBS clashes end; casualties reported

By Rudaw 3/3/2017
VIDEO: Peshmerga forces in the Yezidi town of Snuny, Shingal region on Friday.

10:56 p.m.

Peshmerga-PKK agree on 24-hour ceasefire, meetings to continue

An hour and a half-long meeting between Peshmerga and PKK officials, discussing Friday’s clashes in the Shingal area, has ended with the agreement for a 24-hour ceasefire, Hemin Hawrami, adviser to President Masoud Barzani, tweeted.

The PKK will consult with their superiors in their Qandil headquarters, Rudaw’s correspondent in Shingal, Nasir Ali, reported. 

Peshmerga officials reportedly asked in the meeting to assume responsibility for protection of areas between Khanasoor and Bara. PKK commanders reportedly agreed that the Rojava Peshmerga who took up positions in the area can remain. 

Meetings will continue tomorrow, Hawrami added, saying that the PKK must not repeat their prevention of the Peshmerga. 



9:45 p.m.

Nadia Murad urges dialogue, warns internal conflict serves ISIS’ goals

Nadia Murad, genocide survivor and UN Goodwill Ambassador, described Friday’s clashes in the Shingal area as “a terrifying scene that reminded our people of the events of August 3, 2014,” the day ISIS attacked the Yezidi population. 

“It is painful to see the Yazidi women again are suffering from fear after all that happened to them,” she said in a statement she shared on social media. 

Noting that the Yezidi community, victims of genocide, are now victims of an internal conflict, Murad called on all parties so show “self-control and follow a rational policy to stop the current internal conflict,” and to unite against terrorists whose aim is the “total destruction of all communities in the region and any internal conflict will serve their goals.”


7:18 p.m.

PKK umbrella organization claims clashes were plotted in Ankara

The Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization run by the PKK, released a statement claiming that attacks on its forces in Shingal were planned during recent meetings Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani held with Turkish leaders during his visit to Ankara on Sunday. 

“It is noteworthy that this attack came after Masoud Barzani met with Turkish President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim twice within a week,” reads the statement, according to the PKK-affiliated media outlet ANF. “The attacks on Shingal were planned within the scope of these talks.”

The KCK compared Friday’s clashes with ISIS’ attack on Shingal in August 2014, claiming that both wanted to “end the Yezidi presence in Shingal.”

“All our people should know that our movement will never hesitate to defend the Yezidi people of Shengal just like it did in 2014,” the KCK, stated, calling on Kurds, NGOs, and the world to stand against such aggression. 



6:48 p.m.

PUK leader condemns clashes, calls for calm and dialogue

Kosrat Rasul Ali, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) deputy, released a statement condemning the clashes. 

“We call for an immediate end to this war,” he stated. “We also urge patience and calm, and call for dialogue between relevant parties to reach an understanding in their problems in order to prevent the incident from escalation.”

Ali pointed out the clashes occurred at a time when there are already multiple troubles in the region. “Our nation is going through very difficult political and economic conditions. An uncertain future lies ahead with respect to a reshape in the political map of the region.”

He reminded all actors that the Kurdish parliament had passed a law criminalizing internal wars and military clashes between Kurdish factions. “We call upon all Kurdish parties to commit to this law, and prevent cooking up excuses for these types of wars. We call for an immediate solution to these problems.”

“We should strive sincerely and bravely to shape a bright future for our nation and future generations,” he concluded.



4:43 p.m. 

Peshmerga and PKK officials meet to discuss Shingal clashes
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga and commanders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are holding a meeting in the Shingal area to discuss Friday’s clashes that erupted between the KRG-trained Roj Brigade, also called Rojava Peshmerga, and the Shingal Protections Units (YBS), a PKK affiliate with forces in the area, Rudaw has learned.
Jamal Iminiki, chief of staff of the Peshmerga forces, and Agid Civian, the commander of PKK forces in the Yezidi town of Shingal, have attended the meeting. 
The clashes stopped Friday morning, Rudaw's team of reporters on the ground said and both sides confirmed.




4:08 p.m.

President Barzani's senior adviser: PKK handed over Manbij to Syria, why don't they hand Shingal to KRG? 


In a string of tweets, Hemin Hawrami, senior adviser to the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, accused the forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of having initiated the clashes on Friday morning in the Khanasoor and Snuny areas of the Shingal Region. 


“Question to PKK,” Hawrami wrote on his Twitter account. “You officially handed over west of Manbij [to the] Syria regime army," he said referring to a recent handover of several villages in the Syrian town of Manbij to the Syrian regime to provide a buffer zone between the Kurdish-led forces and the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).



PYD is often accused of having links with the PKK, but the party has consistently denied having any organic connection with the PKK, a banned organization in Turkey, the European Union, and the Unites States.


“If PKK is not seeking problem why they r not leaving Sinjar?” Hawrami asked, reminding the PKK affiliates that Kurdish Peshmerga, who were deployed to Kobane to help defend it against the ISIS militants in late 2014, have left Syrian Kurdistan after its liberation in 2015.  


ISIS captured Shingal on Aug. 3, 2014, committing genocide against the Yezidi population. The town was liberated in November 2015 by a coalition of Kurdish forces, including KRG Peshmerga and PKK fighters. The PKK has maintained a presence in the area, refusing calls from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to leave.


Hawrami also claimed that the Yezidi leaders have called on the PKK to withdraw from their areas, while in fact no such demand has officially been made yet.


When asked about the presence of the PKK in Shingal and whether or not they should leave, Baba Shekh, head of the Yezidi Spiritual Council said that this is a political question that they have nothing to do with; he instead called on all parties, in particular President Masoud Barzani to stop the war.


Hazim Mir Tahsin Bag, the son of the leader of the Yezidis, told Rudaw however, that they are going to issue a statement on behalf of the Yezidi Spiritual Council, which will center around three main topics: that the war should stop; that these areas such as Khanasoor and Snuny have to come under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government; and that they request the PKK to leave the area.


The official statement is yet to be issued. 


2:59 p.m.

Civil war between Kurds is treason, HDP spokesperson

Osman Baydemir, the spokesperson for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) says a “civil war” between Kurds is “treason” and called for it to stop, in reference to the clashes that erupted between the Kurdish Rojava Peshmerga forces with the Shingal Protections Units (YBS) in the Shingal region on Friday morning. 

“Civil war is not acceptable,” Baydemir posted in a tweet. “Civil war is treason for the Kurds. Civil war has to stop.”

The clashes erupted briefly this morning, resulting in a number of casualties from both sides.  

Both sides have now confirmed that the clashes have stopped, but the situation remains fluid. 

Josef Weidenholzer, a member of the European Parliament from Austria who chairs the Ezidi Friendship Group, appealed for the Rojava Peshmerga and the Shingal Protection Units (YBS) in the Khanasoor area to find a peaceful solution for “intra-Kurdish problems.”


“We are deeply concerned about the fight between the Rojava Peshmerga and the Shingal Protection Units [sic] YPS in Khanasoor area. We appeal to both sides to immediately stop all hostilities and solve political differences,” said Weidenholzer member of the Social Democratic Party, part of the Party of European Socialists.


“Both sides should keep in mind that any political and military support from the European Union or its member states also depend on the peaceful solution of Intra-Kurdish problems," he added. "The political future of Shingal should be discussed by the local inhabitants of the region according to their right for self-determination and not by armed infights of militias."


1:37 p.m.

A female journalist injured in Peshmerga clashes with YBS

Firat News Agency ANF, affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has claimed that Nujiyan Erhan, identified as a journalist, has been injured, and her wounds were described as serious in clashes between the PKK-affiliated Shingal Protections Units (YBS) and Rojava Peshmerga, a Peshmerga force formed and trained by the Kurdistan Regional Government years ago by recruiting Kurds who are originally from the Syrian Kurdistan, also known as Rojava. 

The news agency said she was injured in the area between Snuny and Khanasoor, in Shingal Region. 

It did not say what media outlets she is working for, but her Twitter account, with last update about 13 hours ago, shows links to news articles about Shingal region as reported by the ANF. It said that she was working for "the free press," a term used by the PKK to describe media affiliated with it. 

Her unidentified cameraman is also said to have been slightly injured, the ANF reported, without giving details about the timing of the event, except that it happened Friday morning.

It added that the she was injured by the Rojava Peshmerga fighters. 

Rudaw cannot independently verify the ANF claims. 



12:45 p.m.

Kurdistan Peshmerga say PKK force opened fire on them

A statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga force claimed that a force from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) stopped a regular routine deployment of their forces and then opened fire. 

“[Thursday] evening, while Kurdistan Peshmerga forces were doing a routine relocation of its forces in the administrative area of Snuny, they were stopped by a force belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and they then opened fire on the Peshmerga force,” the statement said, without making it clear when the clashes happened. 

The PKK-affiliated forces in Shingal, known as Shingal Protections Units (YBS), stopped Rojava Peshmerga on Thursday, which are under the KRG’s command, but the clashes took place on Friday morning. 

KRG Peshmerga said that they do not need authorization from any other forces regarding the Peshmerga movement and deployment within the Kurdistan Region.

“We are making it public here that the Kurdistan Peshmerga force is free to move and deploy its forces when and where it wants within the borders of Kurdistan Region, and does not seek any party’s permission to do so,” the statement, published by the spokesperson of the Peshmerga force, Halgurd Hikmat, said. 

The clashes stopped some two hours ago, Rudaw’s team of reporters on the ground said, and confirmed by both sides. The KRG says it does not want to wage war in the area.

“We emphasize again that the Kurdistan Peshmerga force would carry out its mission of protecting Kurdistan, and has no intention of waging war. We do not want any war or clashes to take place in that area,” Hikmat added.



11:40 a.m.

Yezidi leader calls for an end to clashes as fear haunts Shingal

The leader of the Yezidi community Mir Tahsin Beg has called on both sides of the clashes that erupted Friday morning in the Yezidi town of Khanasoor to “stop the war.”


“I do not want war to happen,” Beg told Rudaw who returned to Kurdistan about a week ago after receiving lengthy medical treatment in Germany.


He said his return to Kurdistan was for him to see the conditions “of my people” and that any clashes in the Yezidi areas will create great damage among the Yezidi people.


“I want for the war to stop,” he said, adding that he did not make calls with either side, instead he sent his messages to both sides through television.


There is a sense of fear among the people who are caught up in the fighting, as captured by Rudaw reporters in Snuny, which borders Khanasoor, a Yezidi town under the control of the Shingal Protections Units (YBS), and where clashes happened.


One Yezidi man in his fifties told Rudaw, “Neither side cares about the interests of the Yezidi people,” while another pointed to shops and places closes as a sign that people are not reassured that this will not develop, saying, “We don’t want a war.”



11:15 a.m.

Clashes halt in Khanasoor area

Clashes have stopped between the Rojava Peshmerga forces and the Shingal Protections Unit (YBS), Rudaw’s teams of reporters said on the ground, confirmed by both sides of the clashes.

Zardasht Shingali told Rudaw via a phone interview that the clashes have stopped after a mutual initiative, but cautioned that both sides remain on stand-by, taking defensive positions. 

Earlier, a Peshmerga commander told Rudaw the clashes had stopped.

The area where the clashes happened fall into the Shingal Region, a Yezidi area where ISIS militants attacked about three years ago, and committed genocide against the Yezidi community. A combination of forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga and fighters affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have liberated much of the area since then.


10:27 a.m.

Casualties claimed among YBS, Rojava Peshmerga fighters

Media affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party said that one Shingal Protections Unit (YBS) fighter has been killed in Friday's clashes, and three more were wounded. The PKK media also claimed that they have captured four Rojava Peshmerga fighters as prisoners, describing their condition as "well."


Meanwhile, Rojava Peshmerga made a counterclaim, saying that they, too, have taken four YBS prisoners. 


A Rudaw reporter said four Rojava Peshmerga fighters were wounded. 

A Yezidi Peshmerga commander told Rudaw earlier that the clashes had stopped; however PKK media has reported ongoing clashes on Friday morning. 


10:20 a.m.

Clashes stop between Peshmerga and YBS says commander

A Yezidi Peshmerga commander said that clashes have stopped between the Rojava Peshmerga fighters and Shingal Protections Units (YBS).

Qasim Shasho, a Yezidi commander who takes orders from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), told Rudaw that the clashes have stopped. 

There is an 8,500-strong Peshmerga force stationed in Shingal under Shasho's command, which operates seperately from the Rojava Peshmerga.

Shasho told Rudaw in December that they had not yet considered using military force against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters. He said, however, that the PKK's "foreign" fighters should leave Shingal because they are not needed.

"Let the foreigners leave, despite our utmost respect to the Syrian [Kurds] or the Turkish [Kurds], let them leave the area, then we will protect our own people," he said in December.

The issue of the PKK’s pullout from Shingal officially emerged at a conference on the independence of the Kurdistan Region held in December last year at the American University of Kurdistan in Duhok when the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani stressed that, “The PKK should leave Sinjar. Today’s presence of the PKK in Sinjar causes instability in the region.” 

In a later interview with Al-Monitor, Barzani said he was ready to use force against the PKK if they did not leave Shingal voluntarily.

The co-leadership of the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization run by the PKK, dismissed claims that the PKK has committed to pulling their fighters out of Shingal.  

In a statement issued in early January the KCK said that Shingal must be administrated by its people and have their own forces. 

“The PKK assists the Yezidis to create a self-defense force and administrative institutions,” said the KCK statement then, adding that “once the Yezidis have their own protection force and independent administration, then the PKK’s ambitions will be fulfilled in Shingal.”



10:07 a.m.

YBS calls on Rojava Peshmerga to withdraw from Khanasoor immediately

Shingal Protections Units (YBS) claim that Thursday's deployment of Peshmerga forces and Friday's clashes come after President Masoud Barzani paid a visit to Turkey meeting with the Turkish officials, suggesting that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is trying to force out the the forces affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) out of favour for Ankara. 

“This efforts [by Peshmerga] that comes after Barzani’s visit to Ankara is not a coincidence. It is a provocative attempt, based on an order from Ankara,” a YBS statement said.

The statement added that they do not want to escalate the clashes, and therefore, asked the Rojava Peshmerga, who were deployed to the area on Thursday, to withdraw their forces. 

President Barzani visited with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim this week, having what he described as a “very good meeting” with the Turkish side;  security issues were among the topics discussed.




9:37 p.m.


Rojava Peshmerga clash with YBS in Shingal, casualties reported


SNUNY, KRG-Syrian border — Clashes have erupted between the Rojava Peshmerga forces  and Shingal Protection Units (YBS), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), near Khanasur town in the Shingal Region, with several casualties reported, and both sides accuse each other of having initiated the clashes.

The clashes happened early on Friday morning. The Kurdish Peshmerga claim that they were on their way to take their positions outside the YBS-held town of Khanasoor when the YBS fighters opened fire. However, the PKK’s media affiliate claims that the incident happened at 7 a.m. and that it was Rojava Peshmerga who took a “provocative” step and initiated the clashes.
There are reports that some people fleeing the areas where the clashes erupted, with some fleeing to Shingal Mountain.
Rojava Peshmerga forces trained by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) deployed a new regiment on Thursday to the KRG-Syrian border, with plans to locate all of their forces to the border area, the spokesperson of the force told Rudaw English, stressing that they will not cross the border into Rojava in Syria.
“We have had a unit stationed there, and today a new regiment has gone there, too,” Sharvan Derki told Rudaw English on Thursday, adding that the first deployment was about two years ago. “But the media has now made the issue bigger than it is. The media says that a force has been deployed to the border so that they will enter Rojava, but it is baseless. We have just changed our locations.”
The troops, known as the Roj force, have been deployed to the Snuny area of the Shingal region bordering Syrian Kurdistan, also called Rojava.
The order to deploy 500 Roj forces was made “sometime ago, but the deployment took place just recently,” Derki explained.
“We have about 5,000 Peshmerga, and all of them will be deployed to the border,” he added.
Derki denied the reports that their deployment was to engage in clashes with the PKK affiliates in the region.
The Rojava Peshmerga in Snuny also tried to enter the neighbouring town of Khanasoor yesterday, but were stopped by forces affiliated with the ruling Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Rudaw’s reporter in the area said. Both sides had said they are going to negotiate the deployment peacefully and through dialogue.
Relations between the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDKS), the political wing of the Roj force, which is largely supported by the KRG, and the PYD in Rojava have remained strained as the PYD-led government has so far refused entrance for the PDKS Peshmerga forces into the Kurdish enclave in Syria.
The areas where the Roj force are to be stationed border the Rojava canton of Jazira, with Qamishli as its capital city.
PDKS senior official Kawa Azizi told Rudaw in January that the full deployment of the Peshmerga unit to Rojava could take place as early as June this year when the formation of the troop is completed.
“For the moment we have around 7,000 Peshmerga fighters in the unit which includes both male and female forces but it will be deployed to Rojava when another 7,000 troops are added,” Azizi said.
Azizi’s remarks were made days after  President Masoud Barzani told Rudaw in a joint interview that the Rojava Peshmerga have not been sent back to northern Syria in order to avoid bloodshed among Kurds, but he warned that there are limits to his patience.
"Not yet,” President Barzani said when asked whether the KRG had opened the doors for the Rojava Peshmerga to go back to Syria. “I have said it time and again that Kurdish blood should never again be shed by fellow Kurds. Otherwise we would have sent them back a long time ago. But everything has its own limits. Like Arabs say 'even patience has its limits’."
The PYD has recognised its own armed wing of People’s Protection Units (YPG) as the only legitimate military force in Rojava and said the PDKS Peshmerga would be allowed to enter the enclave only under YPG command, fearing conflict between the two rivalling groups if the PDKS-led forces were mobilised in the enclave. 
Derki reiterated that they are receiving their commands directly from the KRG Peshmerga and President Barzani as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, making it clear they make no moves without a direct order from President Barzani.
“Our forces are part of the Zeravani forces,” he said referring to the KRG forces, “and therefore are under the command of the Kurdistan Peshmerga, and his excellency President [Barzani]. We would not move our forces without direct command from the President.”
Derki said that they have received training from the US-led international coalition against ISIS as part of the KRG Peshmerga.

A PDKS delegation, headed by its leader Ibrahim Biro, is currently on a visit in Washington, D.C., to discuss the situation of the Syrian Kurdistan with the new US administration.


Map of the Khanasoor, Snuny, and the Shingal Region. Photo: Google Maps, Rudaw editing



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JamKurd | 3/3/2017
Shame shame shame. Kurd fighting kurd. Is this the way we seek an independent Kurdistan and is this the way to win the struggle against Erdogan. Aim your guns at the enemies of today and tomorrow not toward each other. Our enemies are laughing at us.
| 3/3/2017
Kurds are well accustomed and experienced in slaughtering each other and being mules for their master's interests and own personal gains and survival. How far are they willing to go? Well done Kurds, Well done for "Kurdistan"...What a scam of a scheme...may the people rise and hold all responsible accountable for acts against humanity under the banner of "WaR"
Observer | 3/3/2017
It appears that the KDP started this. They first sealed off the Iraq Syria border and then began attacking the PKK in Shingal. Is this to appease Erdogan? How can the Kurds want independence when they can't get along?
vlog | 3/3/2017
YBS are paid by Baghdad and part of the Hashdi Shabi (Shia militias) structure. They have been asked to either disarm, leave Kurdistan region or register under Peshmerga command for a year now but they refuse to do any of those. They crossed the line by firing upon fellow Ezidi Peshmerga, no mercy will be shown to traitors who work for foreign capitals
guest worker | 3/3/2017
Well PKK have been warned over and over again to leave Shengal which last time I checked is in Bashur and not Bakur. They're going to get hundereds of Ezidis killed and destroy the reputation they build up as saving the Ezidis. Go fight Turkey in Bakur if you're so brave

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