Three Killed in Shingal Clash Between Yazidis and Kurds over ‘Stolen’ Sheep

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:2013 amy beam headshot t

In the afternoon of November 25, 2015, a clash over the ownership of sheep resulted in the death of two Yazidi Peshmerga and reportedly a Kurdish truck driver on the south side of Mount Sinjar (also called Shingal in Kurdish), just north of Shingal city. Leading up to this incident was the liberation of Shingal and some of the surrounding Yazidi villages on November 13, by independent Yazidi forces (HPS), independent Kurdish fighters (YPG, YPJ, PKK), and KRG Peshmerga forces.

Sheep graze on the north side of Mount Sinjar, Iraq, July 2015

Sheep graze on the north side of Mount Sinjar, Iraq, July 2015

Also “liberated” were thousands of sheep stolen from Yazidis by Islamic State (Daesh) jihadists.

When Daesh attacked the Yazidis in the Shingal region of Iraq on August 3, 2014, the Yazidis fled to Mount Sinjar by foot or to Kurdistan by car. Daesh took control of their sheep, chicken farms and crops. The wealth of many Yazidi people was held in their gold and their sheep, not in a bank account.

One sheep sells for $150 to $200 US dollars. A farmer with a flock of 100 sheep has assets of as much as $200,000 US dollars. It is not unusual for one family to own a flock of 300 to 500 sheep.

On November 21, 2015, Kurdish Peshmerga tried to transport flocks of liberated sheep to Kurdistan, but Yazidis prevented it, claiming the sheep belonged to them.

Again, on November 25, a Kurdish truck driver from Duhok tried to transport approximately 100 sheep in a large flatbed truck from just north of the town of Kapusi in Shingal to Duhok. Peshmerga commander Wahid Kovali and his unit were accompanying the truck. According to Yazidis from Shingal, no residents in Kapusi ever owned sheep before the attack of August 3, 2014.

Yazidi Peshmerga stopped the truck en route to Mount Sinjar. Within that group, some Yazidis recognized the sheep as belonging to Yazidis and having been stolen by Daesh after the August 3, 2014, attack on Shingal. Many experienced shepherds can recognize their own flock in the same way that people can recognize other people whom they know. Every sheep has distinguishing markings, colorings, and wool texture. It is possible that the Yazidis in Peshmerga may have been shepherds in Shingal before the attack and recognized these sheep.

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Every flock of sheep has its own distinctive colorings and characteristics.

Every flock of sheep has its own distinctive colorings and characteristics.

Ezidi Press reported that “a dispute then erupted between Sheikh Merwan and Wahid Kovali. . . .What followed was an exchange of fire. It is yet unclear who opened fire. Kasim Shesho told the Kurdish TV channel NRT that Zerevani Peshmerga opened fire and Yezidis were forced to defend themselves.”

Unconfirmed and conflicting reports say when Yazidis said to the truck driver, “These sheep belong to to Yazidis,” the driver pulled the pin on a hand grenade and tossed it at the Yazidi Peshmerga group, killing two Yazidi Peshmerga, Dawood Haji Niso and Haji Atto Saido, both from Siba Shekh Khuder in Shingal.

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Haji Atto Saido, killed in dispute

Allegedly another Yazidi Peshmerga shot and killed the driver in retaliation.

After the clashes, the Kurdish Peshmerga arrested 3 or more Yazidi Peshmerga along with the Yazidi commander Marwan Sheikh Khuduere, and brought them to Duhok. Marwan suffered injuries and was taken to the hospital where his family was allegedly prevented from seeing him.

The town of Kapusi (Qabusiya) lies south of Shingal city and remains under Daesh control. Its residents are originally Sunni Arab Muslims whose children have been speaking Kurdish for the past thirty years. Some may think of them as “Kurdified.” Since August 3, 2014, Daesh surrounded the town of Kapusi and prevented residents from escaping, but did not persecute them, because they are Muslim. Daesh fighters brought kidnapped Yazidi women and girls to Kapusi as their prisoners for sex.

On November 13, as Shingal was cleared of Daesh jihadists, Daesh living in Kapusi transferred the Yazidi girls with them southwest toward the city of Baaj on the Syrian border, but allowed 100 Kurdish-speaking Arab families from Kapusi to walk away toward Shingal city where KRG Peshmerga welcomed them and drove them to freedom and safety in Duhok, Kurdistan. Kapusi remains under Daesh control.

According to Facebook posts by Yazidis from the area, Hayder Shesho, commander of the independent Ezidi Protection Unit, interviewed some of the Arab girls and young women who reported that Daesh had raped them during their fifteen months in captivity.

News reports showed the freed families returning to Duhok. The teenage boys were missing from the families shown on TV reports. This has led to some Yazidis speculating that the young men from Kapusi have joined Daesh jihadists and now their families are living in the Duhok district as internally displaced persons (IDPs). This accusation that the IDPs from Kapusi have family members in Daesh has led to increased tensions and conflict between Kurds and Yazidis in Duhok.

One displaced Yazidi living in a tent near Duhok with his family stated, “I think one day all Yazidis will escape from Duhok to safety in Shingal, the same way we fled from Daesh, if the United Nations does not protect us. Every day there is an increase in racist incidents between Muslim Kurds and non-Muslim Yazidis in Duhok.”

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek and writes political and historical commentary on Kurds and Yezidis in Turkey and Kurdistan at Kurdistan Tribune and her public Facebook page. Twitter @amybeam;


One Response to Three Killed in Shingal Clash Between Yazidis and Kurds over ‘Stolen’ Sheep
  1. Delawar
    November 29, 2015 | 16:46

    President Barzani was the main cause behind Shingual Genocides. Time for Democracy and Accountability. Barzani should submit his resignation.

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