Previously on this blog I featured an interview with the international wing of the Sinjar Resistance Units. The Sinjar Resistance Units are commonly known by the abbreviation of the YBŞ (the Kurdish abbreviation of the group's name). The Sinjar Resistance Units emerged in 2014 as a defence force for the Yezidi people in the Sinjar area when the Yezidis were subjected to attempted genocide by the Islamic State group. Recently I also got the opportunity to interview the general command of the Sinjar Resistance Units. In this interview we discussed the group's history, current responsibilities, relations with the Hashd Sha'abi, position on the Baghdad-Arbil agreement regarding the Sinjar area, and response to the widespread claims of affiliation with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). The interview is presented in full below. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: When were the Sinjar Resistance Units formed and what is their origin exactly?
A: The Sinjar Resistance Units are a force established from the womb of the genocide that the Yezidis were exposed to at the hands of Da'esh [Islamic State] during its attack in the Sinjar area on 3 August 2014. The force was established from the best of male and female youth of the Yezidis, and this force had a very great and important role during the opening of the small passage between the two residential complexes of Dukari and Duhala to the side of the People's Protection Units and the Popular Defence, which through it (that is, the small passage) managed to save thousands of the families through their crossing to Syria, and from it to the Kurdistan Region. And all those affiliated with our forces are Iraqis and our forces mobilise within the legal and constitutional contexts.
Q: In what battles have the Sinjar Resistance Units participated and what is the number of martyrs?
A: After they opened the aforementioned passage, these forces concentrated in the mountain and targeted the Dawa'esh [Islamic State people] in many places in the mountain and its periphery and the centre of the town of Sinjar, in the form of guerrilla warfare (attrition), as these forces remained confined in the mountain and the Dawa'esh imposed a siege on the mountain for a period of two months. And this force participated in many battles in the aforementioned areas (i.e. Bari, Jidali, Hayali, Shalo, Sakinia, Kabara, Qazalakand, Sulakh, Miharka, Deir Aas, Mazar Bairi Awra, Mazar Sharafdin, Adika, Dukari, Hariko, Mazar Shahshams etc.). And this force liberated the residential complexes and districts and centre of the town in the form of stages and the last of this was in the year 2017. During the battle we waged against the Dawa'esh, we have offered 381 martyrs, and more than 1500 wounded, and the grave of the martyrs lies on the top of the mountain alongside the Mazar Shaifal Qasim.
Q: What are the responsibilities of the Sinjar Resistance Units currently in view of the liberation of Sinjar from the Da'esh organisation years ago?
A: We can say that Da'esh has ended militarily but this does not mean ending this organisation definitively, since this organisation is an idea and of an ideological nature and its danger to the religious minorities is still present, therefore we as the Yezidi community have lost trust in all after 2014 and we no longer rely on others to protect ourselves and defend ourselves. So the aim of our forces is to protect and defend the Yezidi presence and the rest of the other minorities in the Ninawa Plain. This is from one angle, and from the other angle, to prevent the security violations and disturbance of security and stability in the area, since there are parties trying to do so.
Q: What is the nature of your relations with the other forces in the Sinjar area? For example have a part of the Sinjar Resistance Units joined the Hashd Sha'abi under the name of Regiment 80 or the al-Nasr al-Mubin Regiment?
A: Coordination, joint work and the creation of a joint mechanism between the forces present in the area have been and still are of our aims without which one cannot operate in the desired manner. And we consider that coordination and joint work are half the aspirations and very necessary in the military field so we can benefit from each other's experiences and also so we can serve through them the region in general. So we have taken the initiative within this framework on a number of occasions and we can say that the coordination is considerable, and all the forces are near this mechanism in a positive sense since the aim of all the forces is to protect the area: this is from one aspect. And from the other aspect, the number of our forces ranges between 4000 and 4500 fighters, and our forces have been fighting voluntarily until now, while our forces have joined the Hashd Sha'abi Commission in the form of a regiment called Regiment 80, but in view of the number of our forces it must be expanded or our forces must join in the form of a brigade because it is not possible to contain our forces in one regiment.
Q: What is the position of the Sinjar Resistance Units on the recent agreement between Baghdad and Arbil regarding the Sinjar district? Have you cooperated with the Iraqi army to implement it?
A: We always prefer dialogue, rational conduct and dealing between all the Iraqi parties and on all levels and we encourage and urge all Iraqi parties not to give opportunities to the enemies of Iraq they can exploit and use for the sake of their interests and ambitions in Iraq. So there occurred a series of meetings between us and our federal government so there occurred dialogue and rational conduct and dealing also taking into account our sacrifices that we offered for the land of Iraq and Iraqi society. And preservation of the sovereignty of the state and respect for the state and its law and constitution before Da'esh have been the master of the position. So in the beginning we criticised our federal government for not granting the Yezidis participation in the agreement contracted between it and the Kurdistan Democratic Party since the agreement concerns the Yezidis and their future and destiny, and we clarified our position to them that we as Yezidis do not accept guardianship from anyone in that we oppose the mechanism of negotiation, as the Yezidis have their own situation and this must be taken into account. This is from one angle. But from another angle, one of our conditions was to include all the Yezidi forces that have borne arms in the face of Da'esh from the year 2014 and until today, and our forces have evacuated the centre of the town of Sinjar and the centre of the Sinun sub-district, and we have handed over 85 positions to the local police and the Iraqi army. And we are with any step that serves the region and we will support it. And the first who raised the Iraqi flag in Sinjar after its fall in the hand of Da'esh was our forces.
Q: Turkey accuses you of affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers' Party and on this basis has bombed the area. What is your response to this claim and in your opinion what is the reason for the bombing?
A: The Yezidi component has been exposed to 74 genocides over the course of its deep-rooted history and we can say that 60 of them were at the hands of the Turks (the Ottomans) and through that they have tried to end the Yezidi existence, and at that time there was no PKK, and today also they are waging war on the Yezidis again by creating false pretexts and accusing our forces and tying them to the PKK to legitimise their war and attack on the Yezidis, and they are trying through different ways and means to end the Yezidi existence and empty Sinjar of the Yezidis and they have ambitions on the Iraqi lands, and their presence in Bashiqa and a number of areas of northern Iraq is the best evidence of that.