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Hashd al-Shaabi hinders anti-PKK efforts: Iraq official

Attempts to expel terrorist group from Sinjar are being impeded by army-linked fighting force, local official asserts

Ali Murat Alhas   | 08.04.2019
Hashd al-Shaabi hinders anti-PKK efforts: Iraq official

DOHUK, Iraq 

The Hashd al-Shaabi, a Shia fighting force affiliated with the Iraqi army, is hindering efforts to expel PKK terrorist elements from Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, according to a local official.

“Efforts by the Iraqi army to expel the PKK and affiliated factions from Sinjar are being impeded by the Hashd al-Shaabi,” Veyis Nevaf, chairman of Mosul’s municipal council, said in a Monday statement.

A predominantly Shia fighting force, the Hashd al-Shaabi was drawn up in 2014 with the express purpose of fighting the Daesh terrorist group. In 2017, the Hashd al-Shaabi was incorporated into the Iraqi army.

What’s more, according to Nevaf, some 3,000 Ezidi youth from the region have been forcibly recruited by the terrorist group.

In the early 1980s, the PKK had maintained camps in Syria and Lebanon before relocating to Iraq’s northern Qandil Mountain region, where the group continues to maintain a presence today.

Following former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s, the PKK managed to consolidate its position and influence in Qandil, which is situated near the Iraq-Iran border.

In the 1990s, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (the two main components of the northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government) carried out an armed campaign in a bid to purge the region of the PKK presence.

In 2014, the PKK dispatched fighters to Sinjar -- both from Syria and from Qandil -- on the pretext of protecting the region’s local Ezidi community from the Daesh terrorist group.

In late 2017, Baghdad sent federal troops into parts of northern Iraq “disputed” between it and the KRG -- including Sinjar. After federal forces moved into Sinjar, the PKK falsely claimed to have withdrawn from the area.

The people of the region, and the KRG itself, have repeatedly complained of the continued PKK presence. Nevertheless, the terrorist group still maintains an active presence in both Sinjar and Qandil.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the death of nearly 40,000 people.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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