Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) Dozens of Kurdish families in the north of Salahuddin province have accused pro-government militias of forcing them out of home and persecuting the community, maintaining a Kurdish-Turkmen antipathy in the region.
Meeting with residents of the Tuz Khormato region, north of the province, the London-based, pan-Arab al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper quoted them decrying a surge in killings, kidnappings and vandalism targeting the community since al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) took over their regions north of the province.
“Sayyid al-Shohadaa Brigades, which operates under al-Hashd, are responsible for all abuses in the region,” the newspaper quoted one resident, Davud Cocnau, as saying, adding that he had to flee with his family from Teen district in Tuz Khormato after Kurds were increasingly being targeted by Turkmen fighters within the PMUs.
Another one, Safin Mazwi, said many neighborhoods in the precinct became no-go areas for Kurds after a surge of assassinations of that community, adding that security authorities failed to respond to repeated complaints.
The situation forced 2685 Kurds to migrate to Kurdistan region, according to Mazwi.
Sabah Bazini, a Kurdish migrant from Tuz Khormato, told the paper that the town’s biggest market had been closed to Kurds who abandoned it after 123 shops had been looted. He said 743 other shops are currently closed down after their Kurdish owners became incapable of doing their business or transporting merchandise because of lurking PMU fighters.
Tuz Khormato had witnessed several clashes between Kurdish Peshmerga (army) forces and PMUs that left several casualties. Sectarian tensions had been high between Sunni Kurds and mostly-Shia Turkmen in the region.
Since its engagement in the war against IS militants, Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, an alliance of Shia paramilitary troops fighting Islamic State extremists alongside the Iraqi government, has occasionally been accused by international rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, of committing war crimes and human rights abuses against Sunni residents of areas recaptured from IS. The force has persistently rebuffed the accusations, deeming the reports fabricated, and the Iraqi government has praised its operations on the humanitarian level.
Al-Hashd gained a government recognition as a national armed force under the army’s observation in November.
*Spelling of the names of Kurdish citizens quoted in the report is approximate, given that the newspaper only reports in Arabic.