Turkey launched a military campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan on 23 April, targeting the Zap, Metina and Avashin regions, known as the Medya Defence Zones of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Sinjar (Shengal) and neighbouring cities in Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Yazidi population mostly live, have been increasingly targeted by shelling by the Turkish military.
Many villages have been evacuated in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region as a result of Turkey’s airstrikes. New military bases have been built by Turkey in the evacuated areas with the approval of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), MA has reported.
The vice co-chair of Sinjar Democratic Autonomous Council (MXDS), Heso İbrahim, told MA that the purpose of the operations is the “invasion of Kurdistan” and Turkey has been using the PKK as an ‘excuse’ for its operations.
“Turkey has been carrying out an offensive in Southern Kurdistan for years. It carries out these attacks on the pretext of ending the PKK. They want to invade not just the South, but all of Iraq. Among the targets are Mosul, Kirkuk, Shengal and Tal Afar. This war is a war against Kurdistan,” he said.
Stating that the military bases that Turkey established in the region were a threat to them, İbrahim said, “Turkey established bases in Başika, Zaxo, Amiye and Hewlêr. As the Yazidi community, we consider these bases as a threat. Very recently, the areas around Laleş were bombed. We are worried about a new attack on Laleş at any moment. They want to renew the attacks, the same as in the past.”
“As the Yazidi community, we have never see ourselves as separated from the geography of Kurdistan and Iraq. Attacks on Southern Kurdistan undoubtedly harm Shengal,” he added. “They say that Mosul is the main target here. Sinjar is Mosul. We consider it as a threat to our beliefs. We see ISIS as a threat. ISIS, trained and equipped by Turkey, is also a threat for Shengal.”
İbrahim argues that Turkey’s attacks on Sinjar are related to a forced displacement policy targeting the Yazidis. “As peace came to Sinjar, the attacks of Turkey and the KDP began. When the return of people began, Sinjar has again become a target. They tried to prevent the return of people with the attack on the Serdeşt Camp.”
İbrahim shared his criticism of the Iraqi government. “The Iraqi government has no soul and no logic. It has no working parliament, no laws, no justice. It only has corruption. It is divided into pieces,” he said. “If it had shown a strong attitude towards Turkey, Turkey would not have launched a campaign in South Kurdistan.”
İbrahim concluded: “Undoubtedly, these attacks are the result of the agreement signed on 9 October. Saying, ‘If you do not cooperate with us, if you do not remove the existing forces and dissolve the assemblies, Turkey will attack you,’ the Iraqi government has threatened us many times.”
But the Yazidi community will not remain silent in the face of a possible attack, he said: ‘The Yazidi community is no longer afraid, as they were in 2014. The Yazidi community is now organised and has the power to protect itself.
“Our priority is to organise the people. We are trying to establish an alliance with the people. However, we will convince people to ensure their return to Sinjar. We will act in an organised manner against these attacks and we will not allow an invasion of our lands.”