YBS/YJS fighters, group formed by PKK in Sinjar
The US State Department on Thursday said that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliates should not play a role in the Yezidi region of Sinjar [Shingal], showing an indirect sign of support for the position of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that called on the PKK and its affiliates to leave Sinjar.
“We continue to believe that the PKK, which is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, should have no role in Sinjar, and we regard their presence there as a major obstacle to a reconciliation and to the return of internally displaced people,” John Kirby, the US State Department spokesperson said on Thursday.
“We urge all groups, including the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government], to facilitate political reconciliation so that these internally displaced people can return and the traumatized communities in that region can rebuild. We also urge continued close cooperation between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government to defeat Daesh [ISIS] and to resolve any other outstanding issues between them,” he added.
The US official further said that they continue to make a separation between the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the PKK, but that for Sinjar it’s different
“We continue to hold the PKK as a terrorist organization and they shouldn’t have any role in Sinjar. And that’s our point. And our assessment of the PKK hasn’t changed, and I have no updates to give you in terms of our view of the PYD as a separate entity,” he said.
Furthermore, Kirby did not want to comment if they see the Shingal’s Resistance Units (YBŞ), a PKK affiliate, as part of the PKK. The group previously said they would participate in the liberation of Mosul and launched an operation in November taking some villages.
“As I said, the PKK is a terrorist organization. We don’t believe they should have any role in Sinjar. I’m not going to get into intelligence assessments or analysis about how they may be organizing themselves or branding themselves,” Kirby added.
Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and high-level member of the KDP, on Thursday blamed the PKK for lack of rebuilding in Sinjar, which is another sign of the bad relations between the PKK and KDP. “One of the reasons Sinjar can’t be rebuilt & population can’t return home is PKK presence. We thank them but they must leave,” he said in a conference in Duhok.
The pro-KDP news outlet Basnews reported on Tuesday that US officials are trying to find a mechanism to have the PKK withdraw from Sinjar. Observers expected the PKK to resist those efforts, and in the past Baghdad has backed the PKK-affiliated groups with salaries.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report on 4 December blamed the KRG –and not the PKK– for placing disproportionate restrictions on the movement of goods into and out of the district of Sinjar, preventing the return of IDPs. But the KRG rejected the accusations.
The PKK has established a presence in Sinjar, coming through the Syrian border to save Yezidis in August 2014 by opening a corridor from Syria after Peshmergas withdrew from the area during the ISIS invasion. Since then, the PKK has recruited local Yezidis for the YBS and created a local council for Sinjar, which led to concerns for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headed by Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region, that it could lose influence in Sinjar, leading to tensions between the KDP and PKK.
So far both sides have maintained a strong presence in Sinjar, in addition to the Protection Force of Ezidkhan (HPE), led by Haydar Shesho, that in October fought together with Peshmerga forces against ISIS and maintains a training camp in Duhola.
In the meantime, tensions continued between the KDP-backed Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) and the PYD over power, especially that the KNC refused to recognize the PYD-led canton administrations. However, the US-led coalition in Syria works with the PYD and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) against ISIS, while in Iraq it works more closely together with the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army. As a result, the PYD and its Arab and Christian allies dominate northern Syria, while the KDP-backed KNC plays a marginal role in Syria.
Source: Ara News
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