Alleged Turkish drone strike targets Yazidi militant group in Iraq’s Sinjar
SINJAR, Iraq (AP) — An airstrike targeted a militant group in northern Iraq’s Yazidi heartland of Sinjar on Tuesday, according to local officials, who attributed the strike to Turkey.
Officials gave conflicting reports regarding the number of casualties. The semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s counter-terrorism service said in a statement that three fighters were killed in the attack, and one wounded. Ali Hamed, a member of the militia-affiliated town council, however, denied that there were any deaths, saying one civilian was lightly injured in the attack.
A drone strike around noon in the Sinjar district hit a house frequently used by leaders of the Shingal Resistance Units, or YBS, Hamed said.
The group made up of mostly minority Yazidis was instrumental in driving out Islamic State group militants from the area after the collapse of the Iraqi army and withdrawal of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s forces in 2014.
The YBS has been a frequent target of Turkish attacks in recent years for its ties to the insurgent Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a separatist movement banned in Turkey and operating in northern Iraq.
A spokesperson for the Turkish Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
The continued violence has stunted beleaguered efforts to return Yazidis to their ancestral homeland after years of violence and displacement.
Violent clashes last year between the Yazidi militia and the Iraqi army in heavily populated areas of the war-scarred district caused as many as 10,000 people to flee the area, many who had returned from displacement, according to Kurdish officials.
The YBS was created in 2014 with support from the PKK in response to IS’s takeover of Sinjar, during which about 10,000 Yazidis were killed and captured in what the United Nations has classified a genocide.
“Today, if they hit us with a missile, ten missiles, or a hundred missiles, we will continue our return to our land, houses, and properties,” said Hamed.
Tensions remain high between the maze of security forces operating in Sinjar. A power-sharing agreement brokered by the United Nations in October 2020 between Baghdad and the Kurdish-run government, where the federal police are the sole state authority, has failed to take hold.
Associated Press writer Salar Salim in Erbil, Suzan Fraser in Istanbul, and Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.