A Turkish attack in northern Iraq on Tuesday killed three Yazidi militiamen and wounded three others, regional officials said. A local official affiliated with the militia disputed that account, saying none of its fighters were killed, but that a shepherd died in the Turkish drone attack.
According to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish regional government, the morning attack in Sinjar district targeted a headquarters of the Shingal Resistance Units, or YBS, in the village of Chumu-Khalaf.
A central government official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the strike had targeted a meeting of senior YBS officials.
Naif Shemo, Yazidi council head in Sinjar, told the Associated Press that the area targeted by Turkish drones was an abandoned Yazidi village where most of the houses had previously been destroyed by the Islamic State militant group.
YBS, made up mostly of a Yazidi minority, was instrumental in driving Islamic State militants out of Sinjar after the collapse of the Iraqi army and the withdrawal of semi-autonomous Kurdish forces in 2014. The conquest of Sinjar by of IS militants killed and captured some 10,000 Yazidis in attacks that the United Nations has classified as genocide.
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Tuesday’s attack was the second such attack in just over a week. A similar attack earlier this month killed three Yazidi militiamen, Iraqi-Kurdish authorities said. Also at the time, a local YBS-affiliated official denied any deaths.
Turkey’s defense ministry did not respond to requests for comment. On Tuesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the Turkish military had “neutralized 126 terrorists” in the past month, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT.
The group has been a frequent target of Turkish attacks in recent years for its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a separatist movement banned in Turkey.
Continuing violence in Sinjar has hampered efforts to return Yazidis to their ancestral homeland in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province after years of displacement.
Last year’s clashes between Yazidi militia and the Iraqi army in the densely populated areas of Sinjar, scarred by war, displaced as many as 10,000 people, many of whom had returned from previous displacements, according to Kurdish officials.
Tensions remain high between the many groups operating in Sinjar. A UN-brokered power-sharing deal in October 2020 between Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurdish local government, which says the federal police are the sole state authority, has not caught on.