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Turkey accused of deliberately preventing Yazidis from returning to northern Iraq

TURKEY has been accused of deliberately preventing the return of Yazidi people to their Shengal homeland in northern Iraq after three people were killed in an air strike on a busy marketplace on Monday.

The Shengal resistance units (YBS), the reported target of the attack, accused the Turkish state of continuing its attempted genocide of the Yazidi people and their right to self-governance.

YBS commander Seid Hesen and his nephew were killed, along with Shengal women’s unit (YBJ) fighter Isa Xwededa, when a missile struck their vehicle in the bazaar in Shengal city centre.

At least three civilians were injured in the blast which took place shortly after noon, when the marketplace was packed during lunchtime trading.

The YBS said that Mr Hesen was assassinated by the “fascist Turkish state” for his role as a commander in the self-defence of the Yazidi people, in which he had played a leading role on the front line of the resistance.

“He became the voice of his people, putting the words of the Yazidi people’s pain into the political sphere. He inspired faith in his people for the defence of the Yazidis,” a YBS press statement said.

The armed resistance group warned that Mr Hesen’s death would not go unanswered and vowed to keep the resistance going “until the fascist Turkish state is defeated.”

The YBS was formed in 2007 and led the fight against Isis in the region as the murderous Islamist group swept across whole swathes of Syria and Iraq. 

Part of the Yazidi militia joined the Iranian-backed popular mobilisation forces (PMF) earlier this year, forming the 80th Regiment as a step toward integration into the Iraqi armed forces.

Its women’s militia, the YJS, was formed in January 2015, five months after the genocide at the hands of the jihadists had begun.

Thousands of Yazidi men and boys were killed by the jihadists, who deemed them “infidels;” women and girls were sold into sexual slavery. More than 3,000 remain missing.

While Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani ordered his peshmerga forces to abandon Shengal, the eventual liberation of the Yazidi people came thanks to fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The YBS forces insist their fight is not merely defensive in nature, arguing that Yazidi self-governance is necessary to prevent another massacre. The militia promised to step up efforts to “establish a democratic, free, autonomous Shengal and defend our people,” after Monday’s attack.

This has put it at odds with regional powers. In October a so-called security deal was struck between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government aimed at disarming local militia and reasserting KDP authority.

But the agreement, and the imposition of an unelected KDP mayor, has been rejected by the Yazidi community, who were not involved in the discussions.

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