Shingal Protection Units (YBS). Photo: Rudaw
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region — The Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces have expelled armed groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in areas south of Shingal (Sinjar) following a wide-range operation against ISIS in the area, but some accuse the group of voluntarily handing over the region to the Hashd.
A Hashd commander in the region told Rudaw that they only take orders from their chain of command in Baghdad and only accept Iraqi forces in the area, referring to the PKK-affiliated group known as Yezidi Protection Units (YBS) and the Peshmerga.
The Hashd forces have taken over 13 Yezidi villages from the ISIS group since they announced a fresh offensive west of Mosul, near the Syrian border late last month.
“We only coordinate with Iraqi forces and have no contacts with non-Iraqi forces,” Abu Mahdi Muhandis, deputy head of the general body of the Hashd al-Shaabi forces told Rudaw in the village of Til qasab.
He maintained however, that “We currently have very good coordination with Peshmerga forces in this region.”
The Hashd commander said that they will let locals administer their region once it is completely clear of ISIS.
“The fate of these areas is clear,” he said. “We have come to only eject ISIS from here. We are an Iraqi force and we will be executing any orders given to us. And we just handed over these areas to the Yazidis themselves. They are free as to how they want to run them.”
Some local Yezidis had already been recruited by the Hashd and they may be put in charge of policing the area.
“These areas are the Yazidis’, but the territory is Iraqi. And we want to belong to Iraq,” Naif Jasim, a Yezidi officer in the Hashd told Rudaw.
“We won’t allow the PKK, its affiliated groups or the Peshmerga forces to enter these areas. No political party is entitled to enter these places.” Jasim vowed. “For us, there is no difference between the Peshmerga and PKK forces. These places are the Yazidis’. They are the people who will be running them.”
Some believe the PKK-affiliated forces withdrew voluntarily from the area for a Hashd takeover and that they did not resist the coming of the Shiite group.
“It’s true our forces had gone to some of these places. But we have now come back to our places. It’s only a small force from the Ezidkhan Asayesh that remains in these places,” Mazlum Shingali, a YBS commander in Shingal, told Rudaw.
“We were not expelled. Rather, we pulled out voluntarily,” he added.