Mahdi Muhandis [M], the deputy head of the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi speaks to a reporter in the liberated village of Kocho, a Yezidi area that has become the face of the ISIS genocide against the Yezidis . Photo: Hashd media office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The deputy head of the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces has declared that they have handed over the liberated Yezidi village of Kocho to the Yezidis, a village that has become the face of the Yezidi genocide by ISIS. He vowed that they will stay in the area to prevent potential attacks on the people in the future.
Mahdi Mahdis, the Hashd commander, and the commander of the Mosul offensive Abdulamir Rashid Yarallah visited the village, south of the Yezidi town of Shingal on Saturday, the Hashd media reported.
“We feel happy and sad of the liberation of this village that faced the murder of its entire people at the hands of ISIS,” Muhandis said in Kocho.
“The Hashd was able to liberate the village with the support of Yezidi fighters,” Muhandis added, calling the village “the symbol of the Yezidi tragedy.”
He continued to say that the Hashd forces will stay in the village to provide support to the Yezidi fighters in Kocho.
“The Hashd will provide them with protection whenever they need it to prevent the repetition of the tragedy,” Muhandis vowed.
Some Yezidi fighters who were earlier among the ranks of the Kurdish Peshmerga defected and joined the Hashd offensive that it launched earlier this month to drive out ISIS from areas close to the Syrian border.
Kocho, the hometown of the UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, is a symbol of ISIS atrocities against Yezidi people. It is 18 kilometers south of Shingal town. Some 4,000 Yezidis used to inhabit it.
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 collectively killed in the village, other girls and women were sold or taken by ISIS members. The fates of thousands of Yezidis still remain unclear.
State-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary launched a fresh military campaign named “Shingal Martyr’s” that retook a number villages in the Shingal region on Thursday including the Yezidi’s Kocho, the symbol of ISIS atrocities.
The operation aims to control western Nineveh contested areas like Baaj and eventually reach Syria’s border,
It’s the second phase of the wide-scale operation of “Muhammed Rasululla” to retake remaining areas from ISIS militants in the Shingal region.