Yezidi fighters in Shingal. AP File Photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Baghdad has agreed to supply light arms and heavy weapons to the Shingal Protection Units (YBS), the commander of the militia force claimed, saying the Iraqi government also is paying the salaries of 500 fighters.
"Since last June, our forces have formally been recognized by the Iraqi government as part of the Hashd al-Shaabi,” said Saeed Hassan, referring to the Shiite militia that has been fighting alongside the Iraqi army against Islamic State (ISIS) forces.
“YBS is an Iraqi force operating within the framework of Hashd al-Shaabi," Hassan told Rudaw, while he also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of creating hurdles for weapons arriving for his men.
"We have met with the Iraqi government several times, and officials vowed to supply us with heavy weapons, including tanks, armor and mortars, but the KRG is blocking the arrival of these weapons,” he claimed.
He said that the Shiite-dominated central government has allotted $3.6 million as salaries for 500 men, but claimed that the money was instead being shared among 1,200 fighters.
"We receive the salaries of 500 fighters from the Iraqi government, from which each fighter is supposed to receive $ 700, together with some logistical assistance. But we do not allocate the salaries to 500 fighters because we have 1,200 fighters, and each receives $400 dollars, accordingly," he explained.
The YBS includes both Yezidi and Muslim fighters, Hassan said. He explained they “are present at 32 positions in Shingal and its outskirts and many of them are on duty without being paid."
Asked if Iraqi flags are flown at their positions, he said: “We are not from a foreign country, we are Iraqis. Therefore, it is normal to fly the Iraqi flag on our shelters."
In mid-November, the Kurdish military announced the liberation of the predominantly Yezidi town of Shingal in a two-day operation.