By Ali Makram Ghareeb
KIRKUK, Iraq (AA) – Four years after Daesh/ISIS terrorists were completely driven out of northwestern Iraq, Iraqi Turkmen who were forced to flee their villages near the city of Tal Afar are still afraid to return out of fear of persecution by PKK militants.
These Turkmens are afraid of returning to their villages in Tal Afar city surroundings because of the presence of the PKK terror group in Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq's Nineveh Governorate, said Nurettin Kaplan, a member of the Iraqi Turkmen Front's (ITC) Executive Board, on Tuesday.
As long as the terrorist organization elements exist on Mount Sinjar, neither the Sinjar district center nor Tal Afar and its villages will be secure, peaceful and stable, Kaplan told Anadolu Agency.
He explained how Turkmens in villages captured by the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group in 2014 were forced to flee their homes, saying that despite the fact that Mosul and its surrounding region had been liberated completely from Daesh/ISIS terrorists four years ago, people could not return to their homes due to the PKK's presence in Sinjar.
"The total population of these villages was about 30,000," Kaplan asserted, referring to Turkmen communities who also lived in areas between Tal Afar and Sinjar. People are concerned about the PKK violence, despite the fact that their villages have been free of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization.
- ‘PKK must leave Sinjar’
Kaplan said, “Thousands of Turkmen are struggling for their survival as migrants in various cities of the country. The PKK must leave Sinjar so that people can come home."
Calling on the Iraqi forces to ensure the region's security, he stressed that thousands of Turkmen who have been migrated for years want to return home.
The PKK is the region's biggest source of instability and disorder, according to Kaplan, who also requested that Sinjar be freed from the PKK, as it had previously been secured from Daesh/ISIS.
The PKK terror group managed to establish a foothold in the region in 2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from the Daesh/ISIS terror group.
Yazidis escaped Sinjar after Daesh/ISIS took control of the region.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
- How PKK terrorists deploy to Sinjar?
Thousands of people, including women and children, were killed and kidnapped by Daesh/ISIS terrorists who raided the Sinjar district on August 3, 2014, where the majority of Yazidis live.
While it is estimated that approximately 300,000 people lived in Sinjar before Daesh/ISIS terrorists seized the district, it is also reported that Yazidis made up two-thirds of the population, with Sunni Kurds and Arabs making up the rest.
Using the Daesh/ISIS attacks as a justification, the PKK created training camps in numerous areas after 2014, including Mount Sinjar, with militants it transported from Syria and Qandil.
The PKK said in January 2015 that it has declared a so-called "canton" in Sinjar, taking advantage of the authority vacuum in the region.
The terrorist group, which intended to gain control of the local administration by forming a political organization with the so-called public assemblies it set up around the region, also forcibly recruited Yazidi children from the camps.
While the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Armed Forces' Kurdish branch, retook the Sinjar district center and its surroundings from Daesh/ISIS militants in November 2015, the PKK escalated its activities there after Iraqi central government troops moved to the district in October 2017.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan