The official of the Lalesh Regiment, a Yazidi force that took part in the liberation of the Yazidi hometown Sinjar (Shengal) from ISIS (Daesh) in 2015, spoke to Roj News on the sixth anniversary of the liberation.
The town of Sinjar and large areas of the Nineveh province in northern Iraq were captured in August 2014 by ISIS who then carried out a widespread and systematic massacre, later officially recognised by the United Nations and many other states as a genocide.
5,000 Yazidis were killed and thousands of women and children were held captives, enslaved, to be sold in actual ‘slave markets’ by ISIS militants. As ISIS attacked, the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi army units quickly withdrew from the region, leaving the civilian Yazidi population completely unprotected.
The counter offensive of Kurdish forces, consisting of Yazidi armed self defence militias and the People’s Defence Units (YPG) began on 20 December 2014, and after fierce fighting that continued for around a year until 13 November 2015 the town was finally liberated.
In August 2017, the Yazidis declared their local administration autonomous, and the Peshmerga forces that had returned after the defeat of ISIS withdrew from the city in October 2017 as control of the town was handed over to the Lalesh Regiment.
Xal Elî, a senior official of the Lalesh Regiment told Roj News that the Peshmerga of the KRG and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) had been complicit in the capture of the town by ISIS and the disasters that had followed.
“The Yazidi forces and our friends have been collectively resisting against ISIS during the attacks. And I would like to reveal all the facts of that time, and we even wish to file a lawsuit in the US courts to highlight the fact that the Kurdistan Democratic Party actually formed an alliance with ISIS and let it attack our people and invade our land,” he said.
“From 2014 until 13 Nov 2015, Shengal was sold out by the KDP to ISIS, and an invasion was enabled. It was an alliance. Those of us who could not run away were held captive, killed, enslaved and sold in the markets. And then when the resistance prevailed, and it was clear that we would liberate our land soon, the gates had been opened by the KDP for ISIS to leave Shengal.”
Elî explained that the return of the Peshmerga to Sinjar had negative implications as the former tried to strip the Yazidi people from their means of self-defence.
“The Peshmerga came back to Shengal not to defend it but for selling us out once again. They came and collected all our weapons, even small arms, from our homes. It was definitely to prevent the Yazidi people from defending themselves and resisting ISIS. These are all proven facts; facts that everybody can watch on TV. Qasim Seso is telling about how he talked with the peshmergas about the defence of the Yazidis and how they responded to him saying that there would be no need for the Yazidis to defend themselves. I mean it’s evidently clear that everything was planned quite clearly by the Peshmerga for the occupation of our lands by ISIS.”
Emphasising that he would stand against any future presence of KDP forces in the region, Elî made a call to the displaced Yazidis to return and join in the rebuilding efforts.
“Shengal was invaded and under their [ISIS] rule for one year. Now six years after the liberation of Shengal, I swear to Melekê Tawus that we will do our best to protect Shengal and will not permit even a small unit of the KDP to take up position in our land. I wish and pray for a free and peaceful future for the Yazidi people. And that all of our people in refugee camps or abroad shall be able to return back soon and contribute to our effort to build the free life on the lands of Shengal. Our religion of Êzdiyatî will reflourish at home, not abroad.”