Mar 23 2018

PKK announces withdrawal from Sinjar region

The umbrella organisation that controls the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced its forces would withdraw from the city of Sinjar in the north of Iraq following Turkish threats to invade if the Iraqi government did not force them out, independent news website T24 said.

The announcement by the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) said that the Yezidi religious minority, which suffered massacres at the hands of Islamic State (ISIS) in Sinjar, was now out of harm’s way. PKK-allied independent security forces, however, would continue to carry out their duties in the city after the group itself had gone, it said.

 

Those involved in negotiating the move will have been very aware of Turkey’s occupation of the region of Afrin in Syria, which began on Jan. 20 and was announced as a success on Mar. 18.

As peshmerga forces from the northern Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) fled the ISIS advance in August 2014, PKK fighters were the first to reach thousands of Yezidis who had escaped the killings to the barren slopes of Mount Sinjar and helped them reach safety. PKK fighters then formed an uneasy alliance with the KRG peshmerga to retake the town from ISIS in November 2015.