Iraqi military detains 23 PKK-affiliated militants in Sinjar

On Sunday, the Iraqi Army announced the detention of 20 militants associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar, Kurdistan 24 reported. 

These arrests followed a protest by Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) members against an agreement signed in October between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil that saw security in Sinjar transferred to the federal government. The deal was supported by the United States, United Nations and Turkey, and is aimed at removing non-state militia groups like the YBS and PKK from Sinjar. 

During the protest, demonstrators pelted the army with stones, prompting the arrest of 23 who they said were actually YBS members disguised as civilians. Two offices belonging to the group were also seized by the army. 

According to Kurdistan 24 sources, PKK commanders, with whom the YBS are aligned, protested the decision and demanded the army release those detained. The demand was refused and they were told releases would only follow a departure from Sinjar. 

Sinjar is home to a large population of the Yezidi minority group that was threatened by Islamic State militants in 2014. After being holed up in the Sinjar mountains for safety, militias aligned with the PKK created a corridor to relieve the trapped Yezidis and established themselves in the region. 

The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the United States and Turkey. They have been locked in an insurgency with Turkey for over 40 years with their main bases believed to be located inside Iraq.