MESOPOTAMIA NEWS URGENT : Clashes between PKK-affiliate and Iraqi army in Sinjar leave two soldiers dead: military

18 Mar 2019 – BAGHDAD,— Clashes between the Iraqi army and Kurdish PKK-affiliate militia from the Yazidi Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded five of the militants on Sunday, the Iraqi military said in a statement.The clashes took place in the Yazidi area of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq after the YBS fighters were denied passage through an army checkpoint, the statement said, adding that the militants drove a vehicle into one soldier and attacked the checkpoint.

The PKK did not immediately comment.

“It is the first time that we have confrontations of this scale in the region,” Mohammad Khalil, the mayor of the Sinjar city, told AFP.

“On Sunday night that the clashes occurred when a YBS military vehicle came under fire from the Iraqi Army as it was attempting to cross into Iraq” Khalil told Rudaw.

The clashes between the YBS and the Iraqi Army’s 15th Division lasted for an hour and occurred in Tipirka in western Sinjar, according to a Rudaw.

Security incidents pitting the Iraqi military against armed groups other than Islamic State are rare.

Sinjar, near the border with Syria, was one of the first areas to be recaptured from Islamic State in 2015 during a U.S.-backed campaign to drive the jihadist group out of vast areas they once controlled in Syria and Iraq.

The security situation in the remote mountainous region remains fragile, however, with the presence of a number of different armed groups.

The PKK has fought a decades-long insurgency in Turkey Kurdistan in southern Turkey but has bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, including near Sinjar.

In 2014, the PKK fighters were deployed in Iraq’s Sinjar region to protect the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi minority from the brutality of the Islamic State group. Since then, PKK has been instrumental in fighting ISIS and protecting Yazidis in Sinjar.

The PKK-affiliate Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) also played an active role in liberating Iraq’s Sinjar Yazidi (Shingal) town in November 2015.

Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim paramilitaries who helped defeat Islamic State are also stationed around Sinjar, as are Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces – PKK rivals who serve the authorities that run northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.  More via