Kurdish Foreign Minister: We Will Reward Sinjar With Province Status After Liberation

Sinjar Iraq ISIS Islamic State
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate in this August 11, 2014 file photo. Reuters/Rodi Said

The semi-autonomous Iraqi-Kurdish government is seeking to upgrade the district of Sinjar to the status of a province in the country after Kurdish fighters liberated the town from ISIS, the foreign minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Friday.

Falah Mustafa Bakir, speaking to Newsweek by phone from the Kurdish capital Erbil, says that, in conjunction with the Iraqi federal government, Kurdish authorities wish to help the people of Sinjar by making it an official governorate of Iraq, with an appointed governor, allocated funds and provincial structure.

"We want to give Sinjar more attention by working between the KRG and the federal government so that we turn Sinjar into a province so that it gets more services to be provided, more assistance and so we can help in this area," says Bakir.

"The final status will be determined, but we believe that Sinjar, out of appreciation of what they have suffered and endured, we hope that we will be able to turn it into a governorate."

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Sinjar is currently a district of Nineveh Province and the town that lies in the shadows of the Sinjar mountains, approximately 62 miles west of the ISIS-held city of Mosul, has become a symbolic battleground in the fight against the extremist group, which captured the town in August last year. The group killed thousands of Yazidi men and enslaved thousands of Yazidi women and children in the town.

A report from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum published Thursday determined that ISIS perpetrated a genocide against the Yazidi people in Sinjar.

Approximately 7,500 Peshmerga fighters freed Sinjar from ISIS on Friday after a two-day operation supported by U.S.-led air strikes, Yazidi militias and Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) forces. The offensive was the biggest coordinated operation to seize ISIS-held territory since the U.S.-led coalition to fight the extremist group was formed in August last year.

"We want to show that this will be our revenge on ISIS," Bakir adds on the proposal to upgrade Sinjar's status. "Liberating the town, freeing that area and also to show ISIS that they don't have a future."

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A representative from the Iraqi government was not immediately available for comment but any such move to make Sinjar a province of the country would require approval from Baghdad.

Kurdistan's top diplomat also called on the international community to assist in cleaning the district of ISIS booby-traps and explosives and the rebuilding process to allow thousands of Sinjar citizens to return to their homes.

"We need help in order to clean the town and the area and we need help to reconstruct it in better shape," he says. "So this is our message to the international community. Thank you for your support and solidarity, today is the day in order to pay back for the Yazidis who have suffered, to give them a better future, come and help us to rebuild it."

Elsewhere, the Iraqi military launched an offensive on the ISIS-held city of Ramadi in Iraq's western Anbar Province on Friday. The group captured the provincial capital in May in the largest defeat for the Baghdad government since the fall of Mosul in June last year.

Also, a suicide bomber killed at least 26 people and wounded 40 people on Friday when they detonated explosives at a funeral of a member of a Shia militia in southwest Baghdad. ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast.

Kurdish Foreign Minister: We Will Reward Sinjar With Province Status After Liberation | World