Peshmerga forces clash with PKK in Iraq
ARBILRival Kurdish groups, the Peshmerga Rojava and a local affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), engaged in deadly clashes in Iraq’s northwestern Sinjar region on March 3, two Kurdish security sources said.
Syrian Kurds linked to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq clashed with members of the Yazidi minority in Iraq, affiliated with the PKK, in the Sinuni area near the Syrian border.
The KDP, the main party in the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) which has close ties to the Turkish authorities and is at odds with the PKK, considers the area where the clashes took place to be part of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
A large Yazidi population lives in Sinjar and after the KRG’s failure to protect them from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014, some Yazidi groups were trained by the PKK to help them battle the jihadists.
The latest unrest highlights the risk of conflict and turf wars between the multiple forces arrayed against ISIL, many of which lean on regional patrons for political support or arms.
Both sides blamed the other for the March 3 violence, the toll of which was not immediately clear.
“There are martyrs and wounded on both sides,” one security source said.
“There was a normal movement by the Peshmerga ... in the Sinuni area. But during the movement a group belonging to the PKK [opened fire], said Halgurd Hekmat, spokesman for the Kurdish regional ministry responsible for the Peshmerga forces, according to AFP.
“Our forces were prevented from entering the town of Sinuni in Hanasur village [in Nineveh province] by the PKK’s Sinjar defense units,” Colonel Kadir Sheikh Mami, a commander of Syrian Peshmerga forces (known as “Roj Peshmerga”), told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
The Peshmerga Rojava force is made up of Kurds from Syria and was formed and trained in Iraq with the backing of KRG President Masoud Barzani.
In a statement on March 3, the YBS, the PKK’s Sinjar branch, said the fighting began when the Peshmerga Rojava tried to seize its positions in the town of Hanasur. The YBS accused Turkey of instigating the violence.
“It is a totally provocative initiative,” the YBS stated.
According to Mami, the Sinjar defense units opened fire on Peshmerga Rojava fighters as they attempted to pass through the area.
Four Syrian Peshmerga fighters and three PKK-linked militants, he said, were injured in the clashes.