ERBIL, Iraq (AA) - The PKK terrorist group is using civilians from Iraq’s Sinjar district as human shields in Syria’s northwestern Afrin district, an Ezidi Peshmerga commander in Sinjar said Tuesday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Kasim Sesho said PKK terrorists had been sending young Ezidis from Sinjar to conflict zones in neighboring Syria since Turkey began its Operation Olive Branch -- with the support of the Free Syrian Army -- on Jan. 20.
The operation, which remains ongoing, is aimed at purging Afrin -- located near the Turkish border -- of PYD/PKK terrorist elements.
“Anyone who resists the PKK [in Sinjar] is executed by firing squad; a young Ezidi was recently killed this way while two others were injured," Sesho said, going on to lament that even young Ezidi girls were being press-ganged into the PKK’s ranks.
Asserting that local civilians were being lured to Afrin on the pretext of taking part in “demonstrations”, Sesho said they were later used by the PKK as “human shields” in the latter’s fight against the Turkish army.
Noting that Sinjar’s village of Hanesor was being used as a staging ground for sending young Ezidis from Iraq’s Kurdish region to Afrin, Sesho said that the village -- situated near the Iraq-Syria border -- was also being used for recruitment purposes.
According to the Peshmerga commander, families living in Ezidi-majority areas -- especially in Sinjar, where the PKK maintains a presence -- continue to face extremely difficult circumstances.
“Many local families have been broken up after their children were forcibly sent off to Afrin," he said.
Sesho went on to demand that the PKK leave the region “immediately” for the sake of the local civilian population.
In mid-2014, the PKK managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar on the pretext that it was “protecting” the local Ezidi community from the Daesh terrorist group.
The PKK later established several armed groups drawn up of local Ezidi fighters, which continue to operate under the PKK’s banner.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story from Ankara.