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Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visits Sinjar Mountain

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, yesterday visited the recently liberated town of Sinoun and Sheikh Sharaffadin Shrine on Sinjar Mountain.

Meeting members of the Kurdish Yezidi community in the area and commanders of the battlefront, fighting against the Islamic State terrorist organisation, known as ISIS, Prime Minister Barzani was briefed on the latest developments and the situation in the recently liberated areas, the process of the return of the displaced families to their homes and the provision of basic public services in the town. Prime Minister Barzani stressed that Kurdistan Regional Government will dispatch special teams to the area in order to assess its basic needs.

Prime Minister Barzani hailed the role of the commanders and the Yezidi Peshmerga forces for their resilience and confronting ISIS from the beginning of the attacks by this terrorist organisation.

Visiting Sheikh Sharaffadin Shrine, Prime Minister Barzani told the press, “The aim of our visit to the Shrine of Sheikh Sharaffadin and meeting these brave fighters who have been resisting for months, is first to express the KRG’s gratitude for their resilience and sacrifice in defending Sinjar Mountain; and secondly, to send a message to our beloved Yizidi sisters and brothers, that the KRG respects your community and understands your deep distress. However, thanks to God and due to the resilience and the hard work of these brave fighters this entire area has been liberated from ISIS terrorists.”

The Prime Minster pointed out that together with local administrative officials they have discussed the necessary steps to be taken in order to reconstruct and reintroduce basic public services. He said, “We hope to make all the necessary services available after the complete liberation of the town of Sinjar that would allow the return of life to the region and the displaced people to their homes.”

Regarding compensations for the region, the Prime Minister said, “The KRG committees will visit the area and we will do our best in compensating the people of the region and helping them to return to their homes.”

Regarding possible international recognition of the atrocities committed by ISIS against Yezidi Kurds in Sinjar as genocide, Prime Minister Barzani said, “For this purpose, we have formed a commission, where two KRG ministers are among the members as well as eye witnesses. We believe that what happened to the Yezidis is genocide, and the government will spare no effort in helping that the crimes committed against the Yezidi Kurds be internationally recognised as genocide.”

Regarding the advance of the Peshmerga forces towards Sinjar, Prime Minister Barzani said, “Liberating Sinjar town was not in the plan of the recent operation, started later last month. It targeted only the liberation of Sinjar Mountain, Sinoun town and the surrounding areas. Now, Peshmerga forces look at Sinjar as their next step. When the military commanders deem the time has come, the operation of complete liberation of Sinjar will be launched.”

He also reassured the Yezidi community that the KRG “continues to exert great efforts to free the Yezidi women and young girls, abducted by ISIS terrorists. However, the plans cannot be disclosed to the media.”

Sheikh Ismaiel, Yezidi religious dignitary in Sheikh Sharaffadin Shrine, considered Prime Minister Barzani’s visit to the shrine as visiting the homes of the entire Yezidi community.

He said that since the main route to the mountain has been freed, humanitarian relief starts to reach the displaced Yezidis.

He said, “Our main request will be to free the abducted Yezidi women from the hands of ISIS terrorists. We would also like to create a province for Sinjar, attached to the Kurdistan Region, and linking Sinjar’s electricity grid to Kurdistan Region, which is currently dependent on Mosul.”

Qasim Shesho, one of the Yezidi commanders who stayed in the mountain and fought against the ISIS terrorists, considered President Massoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani’s visit to the region as historical.

He said, “We want to tell those who were saying that Peshmerga forces did not assume their duty in Sinjar when ISIS attacked, that it is with the Peshmarga sacrifices and blood that the route to the mountain has been freed.”

Responding to the statements reportedly calling to create an independent Region for Sinjar, Qasim Shesho said these statements are against the will and desire of the people of the town. We are and will remain part of Kurdistan, but we ask the Prime Minister to create a province for Sinjar.”

Prime Minister Barzani also met the military commanders and officers who stayed on the mountain from the early days of ISIS attacks and protected the mountain, the displaced Yezidi Kurds and the Shrine. He was briefed on the latest military developments and the Peshmerga forces military operations.

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