An exchange of fire occured on Wednesday evening between Yezidi Peshmerga fighters and Zerevani Peshmerga who are under the control of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Heci Atto Seydo, a Yezidi fighter of the Sheikh Kheri Unit was killed during the clashes. Another fighter called Khalaf Barakat died of his injuries shortly thereafter while three other Yezidi SKU Peshmerga were wounded. At this stage there was no trace of the commander as well as several fighters. Heydar Shesho, supreme commander of Ezidxan´s Protection Unit, confirmed the incidence in a phone call with EzidiPress.

Heci Atto Seydo, Yezidi Peshmerga of the SKU who was killed today in Shingal
Heci Atto Seydo, Yezidi Peshmerga of the SKU who was killed today in Shingal

There had been already tensions between Yezidis and those responsible Peshmerga commanders stationed in the south of Shingal city. Opposition grew among Yezidi fighters after they were not allowed to take part in the southern Shingal offensive near Qabusiya. Several Peshmerga commanders prevented Yezidi fighters from advancing towards the town held by the “Islamic State” until then. Especially Muslim Kurds suspected of having supported the terrorist militia IS live in Qabusiya.

As Peshmerga units arrived there, they started to receive several dozen families which had turned to them. Many of the Kurdish Muslim families living in Shingal have family ties to senior officials of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which is why Yezidis accuse the KDP of covering IS collaborators. Such as relatives of the Iraqi MP Majid Khalaf Hamo (KDP) whose brother Ziyad Khalaf Hamo was arrested in February this year in Shingal for collaborating with the terrorist militia “Islamic State”.

Yezidi Peshmerga then stopped their offensive for a short time. Kasim Dirbo, Yezidi Peshmerga commander explained the situation to the incumbent Kurdish president Barzani who had been observing the Shingal offensive. Dirbo stated that the Muslim Kurds in Qabusiya had supported the IS´s genocide against Yezidis and stolen their properties as the terrorist militia invaded the region in August last year. Barzani is said to have agreed to include Yezidi fighters in Qabusiya then. In addition, no person from Qabusiya suspected of having collaborated with IS was allowed to leave the town unimpeded.

Sheikh Merwan, commander of the Yezidi SKU, observed with his fighters how several people from the town accompanied by Peshmerga were trying to leave the town along with a flock of sheep despite the instruction of Barzani. SKU fighters stopped the convoy and demanded an explanation. Several of those who were not Peshmerga fighters were said to be armed. A dispute then erupted between Sheikh Merwan and Wahid Kovali, Peshmerga commander whose men were accompanying the convoy. What followed was an exchange of fire. It is yet unclear who opened fire. Kasim Shesho told the Kurdish TV channel NRT that Zerevani Peshmerga opened fire and Yezidis were forced to defend themselves.

Sheikh Merwan and two of his fighters were missing soon after the clashes. An EzidiPress correspondent then reported that the commander had been wounded and was therefore being treated in hospital. Around seven Peshmerga under command of Sheikh Kheri were still under arrest.

Another Peshmerga commander told EP in Shingal that the group in Qabusiya had acted on its own and without command. One would neither fear further escalation nor tolerate more clashes. The incident is now supposed to be investigated.