An Iraqi Army soldier. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi Army was deployed to the Yezidi town of Shingal on Sunday to provide security alongside the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated Shingal Protection Units. Hours earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of his own Shingal operation.
“Today PKK guerillas have fully withdrawn from the town. The area is empty of PKK guerilla presence. Only the Iraqi Army and the Shingal Protection Units, numbering one thousand individuals, are in the area,” Khudeda Juke, a commander in Snune, told Rudaw.
Juke, who is affiliated with the Iranian backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries, said the PKK has been withdrawing since its umbrella group, the KCK, announced its fighters were leaving on March 23.
Further Iraqi Army forces are expected to move in soon to take over positions previously manned by the PKK on the Iraq-Syria border.
The commissioner said there is no evidence of any movements by the Turkish military. This is despite Turkish President Erdogan telling AK Party supporters in Trabzon on Sunday that the operation to clear the PKK from Shingal has already started.
Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, seemed to directly contradict Erdogan on Sunday night.
Responding to a question on Twitter, Yildiz said: “I would like to let you know that there is no military operation being executed on the part of Turkey currently against the presence of PKK in Shingal.”
The Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesperson earlier announced that the Iraqi Army will not stand by in the face of any foreign intervention.
The Turkish military has taken control of the Kurdish city of Afrin in northwestern Syria. The Turkish president has vowed to extend the operation all the way to Qandil, the PKK’s mountainous headquarters in the Kurdistan Region.
Last updated: 11:14 p.m.