People of Shengal bid farewell to YBŞ fighters killed in Turkish attack

Farewell to YBŞ Commander Azad Êzdîn and YBŞ fighter Enver Tolhildan killed by a Turkish targeted drone attack in Shengal.

Armed unmanned aerial vehicles (SIHA) of the Turkish state struck two cars in the Yazidi town of Shengal (Sinjar) in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) on Friday. The attack took place in the vicinity of the Shilo Valley at around 15:30 local time in the afternoon. The strike on one of the cars killed Shengal Resistance Units (YBŞ) Commander Azad Êzdîn and YBŞ fighter Enver Tolhildan.

People of Shengal poured into the streets starting from the early morning hours today to bid final farewell to the martyrs. Following religious procedures, the two fighters were taken to the cemetery of martyrs.

Officials from the Shengal Autonomous Assembly, representatives of the institutions operating in Shengal, and residents attended the funeral ceremony, which began with a minute of silence. Afterwards, fighters from the YBŞ and the YJŞ (Shengal Women’s Units) held a military ceremony to pay their last respects to the martyrs. In speeches, Azad Êzdîn and Enver Tolhildan were thanked for their services in the defense of the Yazidi people.

"The deadly attack on our companions is aimed at breaking our will and destroying the hard-won gains of the Yazidi community," said Zekî Şengalî on behalf of the YBŞ. "But we are determined to stick to our resistance for self-determination and continue to defend ourselves."

Xidir Salih of the Shengal autonomous administration described the deadly drone strike on Azad Êzdîn and Enver Tolhildan as a "continuation of the ISIS genocide". He said, “What ISIS did not succeed in doing at the time, the government in Ankara wants to continue in this way. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the spiritual father of ISIS and provides it with its services. We call on Iraq to finally end the silence in the face of the crimes against our people."

Zozan Şengalî from the Free Yazidi Women's Movement (TAJÊ) took the last word and appealed to all Yazidis to defend Shengal’s self-government, which has been built with great effort. "Our people have no one but themselves. Not a single state is willing to support us in any way. We do not need this help anyway. We are capable of governing and defending ourselves."

After further speeches, Azad Êzdîn and Enver Tolhildan were buried under the slogan "Şehîd namirin" (Martyrs are immortal).

The attack came at a time of increasing threats by the Iraqi army and South Kurdistan’s ruling party KDP against the Yazidi town.

The increasing military activities of the Iraqi army in recent days has escalated tensions in the Yazidi town. The Iraqi army has increased its military build-up in Shengal on various pretexts, triggering new provocations.

On January 18, the Iraqi army asked Ezidxan Asayish (Yazidi Security Units) in the Sinune subdistrict to leave the area, threatening to use force otherwise. On the same day, three journalists who were covering the developments in Sinune were detained by Iraqi troops.

Following the Turkish incursion into the Kurdistan Region on April 23, attacks on the holy land of the Yazidi community have been continuing increasingly. Seît Hesen, one of the commanders of the Shengal Defence Units (YBŞ), and his nephew, İsa Xweda, were killed on August 16, 2021 in a Turkish drone attack on the old bazaar in Shengal. In another attack, 4 healthcare workers and 4 YBŞ members lost their lives on August 17, 2021, following the bombing of Shengal Sikêniye Hospital. Shengal Autonomous Administration Executive Council Co-Chair Merwan Bedel was murdered, and his two children were injured on December 7, 2021 in another attack in the Khanasor (Xanesor) district of Shengal. On December 11, Turkish fighter jets bombed the Khanasor People's Assembly. Despite all the attacks, the Yazidis have organized themselves under the Shengal Democratic Autonomous Assembly (MXDS) and established a new life.

The Iraqi government, together with the KDP, is trying to abolish the self-administration of the Shengal region and take control of the area. In this plan orchestrated by Turkey, the destruction of the defence forces of the autonomy-seeking region plays a decisive role. Therefore, since their agreement at the end of 2020, the KDP and the Iraqi government have been trying to crush the Ezidxan Asayish. So far, all such attempts have failed due to the resistance of the population.

Responding to the increasing military activities of the Iraqi army, the Shengal Autonomous Administration last week called for popular organization and unity, and vowed to defend an autonomous and free Shengal.

The Shengal Autonomous Administration said that the recent military mobility was aimed for the security of Shengal but could not secure the town. According to the Autonomous Administration, the developments are a continuation of the October 9, 2020 agreement signed between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP-ruling party in South Kurdistan) and Al-Kadhimi government (central Iraqi government). The Autonomous Administration called on international powers to prevent military escalation and to promote solutions based on an autonomous administration in Shengal.