Iraqi Official: PKK Has Actually Left City of Sinjar

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The head of district state administration of the Iraqi city of Sinjar, Mehma Xelil, told Sputnik that members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) officially left the territory of Sinjar, near Iraq’s northern border, April 1.

According to Xelil, the PKK has now officially retreated from Sinjar.

"[On April 1], the PKK officially left our region in compliance with the demands of Sinjar residents and headed towards Syria along with its equipment and heavy armament. The exact number of PKK members who have retreated hasn't been estimated," the official told Sputnik.

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"The government of Iraqi Kurdistan, Baghdad and the people of Sinjar demanded that the PKK leave the territory of the city and we are grateful that they have complied with the demand," Xelil said.

He added that the PKK has decided to retreat due to the fact that Sinjar residents are capable of ensuring their own security.   

"This step will contribute to safeguarding the security of Sinjar," the official stressed.

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Last week, a representative of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish military forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, told Sputnik that claims by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) about having retreated from Sinjar were a ruse, despite a number of key political and military figures saying that the PKK has completely retreated and that government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga units had taken their place.

"They made this statement to confuse the citizens of Sinjar and prevent a Turkish attack in the area," Xelil Shirvan told Sputnik.

The Turkish government had expressed its readiness to launch a ground operation against PKK militants in Sinjar, saying that if Iraqi forces face difficulties, Turkey will take things into its own hands — a move vehemently opposed by Baghdad, which claimed that such an action would be a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and would warrant a response by Iraqi forces. The PKK is outlawed in Turkey.

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