Peshmerga forces in Shingal AP file photo.
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Only forces under a special Peshmerga command will be allowed to operate in the predominantly Yezidi area of Shingal, a Kurdish military official told Rudaw.
“Forces not under the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Peshmerga Ministry will not be allowed to stay in Shingal,” said Qasim Shasho, the Yezidi commander assigned to lead the Shingal Command.
He said the Shingal Special Forces Command would bring together all the different forces protecting Shingal, following a devastating attack by the Islamic State (ISIS) group nearly a year ago.
Shasho added that Muslims, Arabs and Yezidi Kurds would be part of the Shingal Special Forces, which so far is organized into 10 regiments and 26 companies.
The Shingal force was established on the orders of Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, who is also commander-in-chief of the Peshmerga army.
Shasho said that another special force established by the Iraqi government had been merged into the Shingal Special Forces.
“Shingal belongs to its people and we won’t allow any other force to come to the city without the KRG Peshmerga ministry’s consent,” he vowed.
Currently, forces on the ground in Shingal include the Iraqi government‘s Special Forces for Shingal and different forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and the Sinjar Resistance Units.
The Shingal Special Forces has registered 5,000 Peshmerga fighters.
According to Shasho, Baghdad has stopped paying for the Shingal Special Forces and the fighters also have not received any financial help from the KRG.
In August last year an ISIS offensive in northern Iraq pushed into the Kurdish-held areas of Nineveh province, capturing Shingal and other areas.
Tens of thousands of Yezidis fled the ISIS invasion, taking shelter without food and water in the Shingal Mountains north of the city.
In December last year, the KRG’s Peshmerga forces and the Kurdish YPG forces from Syria launched major offensives and recaptured some parts of the town.