Three Yazidi militants were killed in the Turkish attack in northern Iraq, according to local officials

DOHUK, Iraq — Three Yazidi militants were killed and three others wounded in a Turkish attack in northern Iraq on Tuesday, regional officials said. A local official with ties to the militia disputed that account, saying none of the fighters were killed, but a shepherd was killed in the Turkish drone strike.

The semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq said the early morning strike targeted the headquarters of the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) in the village of Chumu-Khalaf in Sinjar district.

A central government official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strike was aimed at a meeting of senior YBS officials.

Naif Shemo, head of the Sinjar Yazidi Council, told The Associated Press that the area targeted by the Turkish drones was an abandoned Yazidi village where most of the houses had been destroyed by the Islamic State militant group.

After the collapse of the Iraqi army and the withdrawal of the semi-autonomous Kurdish forces in 2014, the YBS, which is mostly made up of minority Yazidis, played a significant role in ousting the Islamic State militants from Sinjar. About 10,000 people have been killed and captured by the militants who seized Sinjar from Islamic State militants. Yazidis in attacks that the UN has classified as genocide.

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Tuesday’s attack was the second such attack in just over a week. Iraqi-Kurdish authorities said three Yazidi militants were killed in a similar strike earlier this month. Also at the time, a local YBS official denied that there had been any deaths.

The Turkish Defense Ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday that the Turkish military had “neutralized 126 terrorists” in the past month, Turkish state-owned broadcaster TRT said.

The group has been a frequent target of Turkish attacks in recent years due to its links to the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a separatist movement banned in Turkey.

The violence in Sinjar has pushed back efforts to return the Yazidis to their ancestral homeland of Nineveh province in northern Iraq after years of displacement.

Kurdish officials say clashes between the Yazidi militia and the Iraqi army in densely populated areas of war-torn Sinjar last year forced more than 10,000 people to flee the area, many of them returning from earlier displacement.

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Tensions remain high among the many groups operating in Sinjar. A power-sharing agreement signed by the UN in October 2020 between Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish Self-Government, according to which the Federal Police is the sole state authority, failed to take effect.


Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Istanbul and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report.