Clashes broke out on Sunday March 17 in Sinjar between the YBS and the Iraqi army. It comes after an important Iranian presidential visit to Iraq, and discussion of Iraq and Iran and the 1975 agreement; as well as rumors of joint Turkey-Iran operations against the PKK. The YBS is linked to the PKK. In addition it comes as Iraq, Iraq and Syria are cementing relations this week.
The YBS is a Yazidi group with close links to the YPG in Syria as well. The YPG and PKK fighters helped save Yazidis from genocide in 2014. However these left-leaning groups had difficult relations with the KDP and Rojava Peshmerga who helped liberate part of Sinjar in 2015. Then in late 2016 and 2017 the Shi’ite PMU became new neighbors of Sinjar as they liberated areas south of the city from ISIS; and in October the PMU helped the Iraqi army take over Sinjar as the Peshmerga retreated after the referendum crises.
There are around 60 mass graves of Yazidi victims of ISIS estimated to be in Iraq, many of them near Sinjar. 300,000 Yazidis want to return. But the different militias and dozens of checkpoints make life difficult. Some roads to Sinjar were re-opened in December 2018, an important sign.
Turkish airstrikes in April 2017 and August 2018 came as Turkey warned the PKK to leave Sinjar. The PKK claimed they left in April 2018.
However tensions remain. Rudaw notes “The Iraqi Army and a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)-linked group skirmished on Sunday night [March 17] in Shingal, with each side claiming that two of their fighters were killed, as the Yezidi militia says their convoy was ambushed on their way to a meeting.” Rudaw notes “The clashes between the YBS and the Iraqi Army’s 15th Division lasted for an hour and occurred in Tipirka in western Shingal, according to a Rudaw reporter in Shingal.”
There had been tensions in September 2018 also.
Clashes began again on March 19. “Clashes continued between Iraqi soldiers and a Yezidi armed group in western Shingal on Tuesday after a failed attempt to mediate tensions following a deadly skirmish on Sunday.”
At least one Iraqi soldier was injured and there are unconfirmed reports that a second was killed. Vehicles belonging to forces on both sides were burnt, Rudaw’s Tahsin Qasim reported from Shingal. Tensions are high between the Iraqi Army and the Shingal Protection Units (YBS), a Yezidi force with ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The two sides clashed on Sunday night with each blaming the other for instigating the incident. Representatives from the Iraqi Army and the YBS met in Hasawik village with the Iraqis telling the YBS to leave because they are an illegal armed force. The YBS refused and accused the army of hampering free movement between the Shingal area and Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Syria.
More details, the attack included an assault on a hummer.
Tom Cat notes. “Shammar tribe expressed outrage after one of their sons was killed by the YBS smugglers. Muhannad was from Rabia and serving under Iraq Army 15th Division, 71st Brigade.”
He says the PKK attacked a point near Umm Ziban. “The unit that was attacked was Iraq Army 15th Division 92nd Brigade. This unit has been deployed in Sinjar town and its surroundings since last year when the PKK supposedly left the region.” He has a long thread on this.
This man was killed on March 17.