The leading commander of the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Shingal, has warned that if clashes resume in the area, they would spread across Kurdistan.
Speaking to Kurdish daily Yeni Ozgur Politika on Sunday, Egid Civyan, said people were not leaving the Yazidi homeland but instead taking precautions against possible clashes.
In a stark warning he added, “All the people of Kurdistan should know this: resumption of clashes in Shingal will not just remain here but spread across Kurdistan. If Kurdish people do not take a stand against the Turkish state and KDP’s mercenaries then we will be faced with losses for another hundred years.”
The commander also claimed that the peshmerga forces who had arrived in the Khanasor neighbourhood of Shingal were not really peshmerga fighters but mercenaries trained by the Turkish government.
“The way they came here and deployed, their arms, vehicles and numbers revealed their true intentions. When they began preparing to attack, the YBS (Yazidi Shingal Resistance Units) approached them for dialogue. But they reacted angrily and threatened the YBS fighters,” Civyan said, adding that the two PKK militants killed had tried to intervene to prevent clashes.
The commander also rejected claims by Peshmerga Forces Spokesperson Helgurd Hikmat that their forces had been prevented from entering the area.
“Peshmerga forces have never been prevented in areas under the control of the YBS or PKK. But these mercenaries are paramilitary gangs; there are former Islamic State and Al-Nusra members responsible for the Yazidi genocide amongst them, as well as elements who participated in the war against Kurds in northern Kurdistan (southeast Turkey).”
Civyan also claimed that Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials had called them following three hours of clashes and requested that clashes cease.
“We told them we would mediate and clashes stopped. I was present at the meeting alongside representatives of the YBS and KDP. We told the KDP we did not want tensions to escalate, ‘We are going through a historic process and clashes between Kurds will only favour our enemies. Especially the Turkish state,’ we said. However the official rejected withdrawal and said they had come to Shingal for a mission.”
Civyan said they had also proposed that each party go back to their positions before 2 March but that this had been rejected. “As long as those forces remain here there is always the possibility of clashes, because they are here to attack us,” he added.
The PKK commander stated that they were in favour of dialogue and a peaceful solution but that this would only be possible with the withdrawal of hostile forces. “We came here in 2014 to stop the massacre of Yazidis, and the area is not still not safe from these forces,” he said.
In a separate interview with news site Arti Gercek on Saturday, Peshmerga Forces Spokesperson Helgurd Hikmat had said the Rojava Peshmerga were a branch of the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga force and a legal entity in the region.
Referring to the PKK and YBS, the peshmerga spokesperson said these groups were illegal forces and needed to withdraw from the region.
“Forces that are illegally in Shingal need to withdraw so that the area can form its own administration, receive aid, reconstruct Shingal and resolve problems,” Hikmat said.
According to reports both sides are continuing to deploy troops to the area.
Seen as the Yazidis spiritual homeland, Shingal is a contested area by the Kurdistan Regional Government and central Baghdad government.
An onslaught by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group in August 2014 led to the death of thousands, the kidnapping of thousands of women and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in a tragedy that the UN has called genocide.