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Yazidi officials call for peace as Iraqi army close in on Shengal

YAZIDI party officials continued their calls for peace in the Shengal region today as tensions and military activities by the Iraqi army continue to escalate.

Soldiers have closed in on the town in recent days, which lies in one of the areas contested between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan regional government.

Spokesman for the Yazidi Freedom and Democracy Party Hesen Heci said that the operations, conducted in collusion with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), aimed to destroy the system of self-administration there.

“Dirty plans for Shengal have been going on for eight years. Everyone is doing politics without the Yazidi people.

“We will rule our people through our politics. We will work for our people,” he said.

Shengal is run under the principles of democratic confederalism, the ideology of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

But a security deal struck between Baghdad and Erbil in 2020 — behind the backs of residents — saw the imposition of a KDP mayor as part of plans to seize control of the region.

The agreement also demands that “armed groups” leave the area, a move aimed at the PKK which no longer has a presence there.

Shengal was the scene of a 2014 genocide at the hands of Isis, when thousands of men and boys were massacred and thousands of women and girls sold into sexual slavery.

It was liberated by the PKK, who defeated the jihadists. But authorities want to weaken the organisation’s influence there.

The area has been constantly threatened by KDP and Iraqi forces, with the Yazidi people accusing Turkey of being behind the security agreement.

“Some parties do not want peace in the region. We are not supporters of war. We will not allow peace to be disrupted in Shengal,” Mr Heci said.

Turkey frequently bombs Shengal and was accused of war crimes after it targeted a hospital last year, killing eight people, including four health workers.

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