Turkey again carried out a targeted assassination of Yazidi members of a far-left group in Sinjar in northern Iraq on Wednesday, according to local reports. It is one of several airstrikes Turkey has carried out in the area where members of the Yazidi minority live.
The impoverished Yazidi community survived ISIS genocidal attacks but have now been targeted repeatedly by Turkey since 2017, including a Turkish invasion of Afrin in 2018 that led to ethnic-cleansing of Yazidi villages and a Turkish attack with Syrian rebel fighters on Tel Abyad in October 2019 that forced Yazidis to flee Syria.
According to Rudaw an airstrike carried out by Turkey hit a vehicle north of Sinjar Mountain, which is also called Shingal, on Wednesday at 11:00am. It occurred near the village of Dugure and killed at least five people. Among those killed was believed to be Zardasht Shingali, a member of the Yazidi Shingal Protection Units (YBS).
The group is linked to other far-left groups, such as the People’s Protection Units in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which Turkey says is a terrorist group. However the YBS have never been implicated in any “terror” attacks or any attacks on Turkey. Nevertheless Turkey uses F-16s to bomb the Yazidi areas every few months.
According to international legal experts, extrajudicial assassinations are illegal, but Turkey routinely carries them out. In August 2018 Turkey assassinated PKK leader Zaki Shingali, a Yazidi who was returning from genocide commemorations at Kocho near Sinjar. In July 2019 Turkish jets bombed a refugee camp near Makhmour in northern Iraq. In November 2019 Turkey carried out two series airstrikes near Sinjar destroying civilian homes, according to locals. Turkey also bombed Sinjar mountain in April 2017, killing Kurdish Peshmerga who have no link to the PKK and bombing a PKK graveyard. After the November 2019 airstrikes the US Commission on International Religious Freedom condemned Turkey’s airstrikes on Yazidi areas.
Turkey carries out airstrikes in Sinjar because it knows that Iraq won’t oppose it and it can act with impunity in an area of Iraq that is impoverished and recovering from genocide. More than 300,000 Yazidis have not been able to return home after the ISIS genocide and Turkish airstrikes make it more difficult for them to return because they never know when an F-16 might target them. It adds to the already insecure situation in northern Iraq where various militias control checkpoints and the international community has not invested in basic services or documentation related to the genocide. ISIS killed thousands of Yazidis in 2014 and sold women and children into slavery. More than 3,000 Yazidis are still missing and more than 30 mass graves of Yazidis have been found. A UN-backed team began exhuming the first mass graves of Yazidi victims in March 2019.