A week after tension rose in the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar (Shengal), Iraq, and fire was exchanged between Iraqi troops and Yazidi defence units in several places, Iraqi army reinforcements were moved into the area on Monday, some reportedly deployed in the Sinjar town centre.
The attempt by Iraqi troops to forcibly take over control of a Yazidi check point in a village last Monday led to a series of incidents which turned into clashes between both sides.
According to a report by Shafaq News, ten artillery pieces and large quantities of ammunition were sent to the 20th Infantry Division of the Iraqi army in Sinjar on 25 April.
A security source told Shafaq News that the two sides exchanged fire in the village of Khansour, near the Iraqi-Syrian border, and an Iraqi border guard was injured.
Roj News reported that the Iraqi military reinforcements also included tanks, armoured vehicles and additional troops. While some were deployed in the Sinjar town centre, some were also dispatched to the villages of Sikêniyê and Heyalê, south of Mount Sinjar.
A video released by Roj News shows the long row of military vehicles, allegedly arriving in Sinjar.
Background of the conflict
There had been attempts in October 2021 by the Kurdistan regions’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to deploy its peshmerga forces in Sinjar, and Turkey persistently targets Yazidi forces who it accuses of being affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The administrations of Iraq and Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) reached an agreement on 9 October 2020 to restore central authority in Sinjar, while Yazidi representatives were excluded from the talks.
Yazidi self-defence forces -and eventually a Yazidi autonomous administration- were established after the 2014 massacres of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Sinjar resulted in the deaths of thousands of Yazidis and in the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and children by ISIS. The Iraqi and KRI forces deployed in the area had immediately withdrawn at the time as ISIS approached, leaving the Yazidis unprotected in the face of the ISIS attacks.
It was only due to the assistance of Kurdish fighters of the PKK and the People’s Defence Units (YPG) that tens of thousands of Yazidis managed to escape the ISIS attacks and take refuge in the Mount of Sinjar and eventually being helped off the mountains through escape routes opened up by PKK and YPG fighters.