Kurdish government calls on PKK to leave Sinjar after Turkish airstrikes

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Fighters of the PKK and Yezidi YBS in Shingal/Sinjar. File photo

ARA News

On 25 April, as a result of Turkish airstrikes targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on and around Mt. Sinjar, and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) base in Karashoq, in northern Iraq, five Peshmerga soldiers and over 18 Kurdish YPG fighters were killed. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Kurdish government officials called on the PKK to leave the Sinjar region.

“This painful and unacceptable attack on Peshmerga forces by Turkish warplanes is a result of PKK’s presence in and around Sinjar. PKK has been problematic for the people of the Kurdistan Region and, despite broad calls to withdraw, refuses to leave Sinjar,” the Ministry of Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan said on Tuesday.

“We call upon PKK to withdraw from Mt. Sinjar and surrounding areas. PKK must stop destabilizing and escalating tensions in the area to allow life to return to the people of the area,” the MoP added.

“I strongly condemn Turkish air strikes killing 5 Peshmerga and wounding nine others PKK must leave Kurdistan Region to avoid such tragedies,” KRG foreign relations head Falah Mustafa said.

On 3 March, clashes broke out between KDP-linked and PKK-linked fighters in the Yezidi district of Sinjar in northern Iraq. At least 7 PKK-affiliated fighters were reported dead in the clashes. This led to severe tensions between the PKK and the KDP in both Syria and Iraq.

The KDP has called on the PKK to leave Sinjar, while the PKK says they are building a local self-administration for the Yezidis and that there are joint plans by Turkey and AKP to ‘attack the Yezidis’.

“They [KDP] are afraid of the system in Shingal [Sinjar], it’s a model,” a PKK official in Slemani told ARA News. “The [Yezidi’s] have their own self-administration, system, and party,” he said.

It’s unlikely that the recent Turkish airstrikes will lessen tensions between the two factions in Sinjar.

“Probably they [PKK] would stay. They would never give up,” Oytun Orhan, researcher with the Turkish Orsam think tank in Ankara told ARA News.

“It is critical for them in such an environment, Syria issue, fight against Daash, so probably a solution to Sinjar needs time. In the long run, the KDP should retake those areas. But I don’t think just because Turkey attack [them], they will withdraw from that area. In the short term, I mean” he said.

“PKK has become source of Turkish aggression in the region, in Sinjar, so the KDP might ask PKK to leave,” he said. “For not giving Turkey an excuse to attack that area, might also increase KDP pressure to the PKK to leave that area. But in short term they will not give up their entity in Sinjar,” he concluded.

Abdulla Hawez, a Kurdish journalist and student at King’s College in London, told ARA News: “I don’t think the PKK would withdraw from Sinjar, they think since they have a big role in rescuing the Yezidis after the 2014 massacre they have a responsibility to stay there. PKK considers themselves protecters of Yezidis, this is why they refuse to leave.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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