Heavy smoke covers the town of Sinjar during an operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces on November 12, 2015. Photo: Safin Hamed | AFP
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – A number of Yezidis have joined the Hashd al-Shaabi after the mainly Shiite forces began to oust ISIS from areas in the Shingal region. These Yezidis say they want to play a role in liberating their areas.
Ten days ago, Naif Jasim Qasim, leader of the Mandkan tribe and chieftain of the village of Kocho, returned to the Kurdistan Region after being in Germany for more than a year. He visited Baghdad and directly joined the Hashd al-Shaabi forces.
Last week, Talib Naif, a regiment leader in Shingal Command, resigned and joined the Hashd al-Shaabi forces along with a number of Peshmerga.
Kche Amo, a prominent figure in Kocho village, was a reason Qasim chose to join the Hashd al-Shaabi.
“Naif is a known figure in Shingal and Kocho regions. He joined the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) after the Baath Party was overthrown in 2003. He left the PUK and joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) three years later. As far as we know, Naif has fallen out with some authorities, especially after he had become disappointed in the liberation of Kocho by Peshmerga forces,” Amo said.
More Yezidis now want to join the Hashd al-Shaabi seeing this prominent figure and his son do so, Amo said.
“Yezidi youth from Duhok camps join their forces daily. It’s said nearly 200 youths have so far joined their forces,” Amo said.
“We have been waiting for the liberation of our areas for a while. When we saw the Hashd al-Shaabi forces engaged with the liberation of these areas, we joined them in order to participate in the liberation of our areas,” Talib Naif said.
When ISIS militants attacked Shingal and its surroundings in August 2014, they arrested thousands of Yezidis, many from the village of Kocho. Some of them were killed collectively in the village and the fates of the rest are unclear to date.
“Great injustice has been done to Naif, his relatives, and people from his village. He has joined the Hashd al-Shaabi forces out of anger. We all know how good Naif was,” Qasim Shasho, commander of the Shingal Peshmerga forces, said.
“Talib joined them after his father did so. His son told us he didn’t want to do that, but couldn’t go against his father’s word,” Shasho said of the commander of one of his regiments who joined the Hashd al-Shaabi.
Shasho dismissed the allegation that 200 people have joined the Hashd al-Shaabi.
“Only Talib and nine other Peshmerga have joined the Hashd al-Shaabi forces,” he asserted.
He did not deny a claim that a number of his Peshmerga had joined the Shiite force.
“Yes, it is true that 15 of my Peshmerga have joined the Hashd al-Shaabi forces,” he confirmed.