Qasim Shesho: ‘I truly believe if you have 500 warriors with sufficient weaponry you can recapture every bit of Shingal in 48 hours.’ Photo: Rudaw
By Obed Rashavayi
NEAR MOUNT SHINGAL - Qasim Shesho, a veteran Yezidi fighter who together with 2,000 other combatants is defending Yezidi towns and villages from the Islamic State (IS/formerly ISIS) armies, firmly believe his community should stay put and defend their lands.
“Those who urge Yezidis to leave for Europe have no integrity or conviction. We ask these people (who have left) to come and defend their land and return to Shingal,” he told Rudaw in an interview. ”I have German citizenship and could leave today, but it would be a disgrace to abandon my land,” he added.
“At the start we were around 500 fighters,” he explained. “Now I could say that we are more than 2,000 fighters, scattered over a number of places around Shingal.”
Shesho said that IS gunmen have stayed away from areas in Bork and Doholla, and that the Dugre locality was recaptured in a joint operation with Kurdish Peshmerga forces and guerrilla fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Forces from the PKK in Turkey and its affiliate in Syria, the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), are currently positioned on Mount Shingal. But Shesho said he has no information how long those forces plan to stay. He said the area remain “very much in the hands of Peshmerga and people.”
He called on all Kurds to come together and liberate Shingal.
“That’s the real issue. For your information, as we speak, 300 families are in the Shingal Mountains who have sworn to stay there to the last breath,” he said.
Shesho added that his group of fighters has been attacked six times by IS militants.
He said his men had better weapons, thanks to two arms deliveries by the Peshmerga, who provided heavy weapons to ward away the Islamic fighters from the mountain and Yezidi holy places, such as the shine of Sharafaddin, a 13th century saint.
According to Shesho, the capture of Shingal by the IS and the devastation brought upon the Yezidi community there was “a plot.”
“The (Kurdish) military and intelligence forces here in the area failed to do their job well,” he said, adding that military commanders who were in charge of defending the area “should be hanged.”
In his assessment, the tragedy of the Yezidis in the Shingal area will end soon.
“I truly believe if you have 500 warriors with sufficient weaponry you can recapture every bit of Shingal in 48 hours,” he said.
Iraq’s Yezidis and Christians have been the two communities most persecuted by IS militants, who have declared their own Islamic State since capturing Mosul in June.
Tens of thousands of Yezidis remained trapped on Mount Shingal after they were driven from their homes by the IS armies, who regard the non-Muslim Yezidis as “unbelievers.”
In the end it was the plight of the Yezidis fleeing Islamic IS and dying in their dozens of hunger and thirst on the arid Shingal mountain that galvanized the international support behind the Peshmerga forces.
The US started military strikes against IS positions earlier this month, after news of the unfolding tragedy on the mountain resounded around the world.