Thousands of people have been displaced as a result of fighting between the Iraqi army and Yazidi fighters of the PKK terrorist group, according to a statement by a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking non-Arab, non-Muslim minority.
Clashes left one Iraqi soldier dead on Monday in the northern region of Sinjar, the Yazidi minority’s heartland which is the site of frequent confrontations between security forces and local fighters allied with the PKK terrorists.
The latest violence “led to the displacement of 710 families, or 4,083 people,” Hussein Klari, of the KRG interior ministry’s crisis unit, told a press conference.
They received sanctuary in the KRG-controlled region’s Dohuk province, he said.
In the Iraqi capital Baghdad, an immigration ministry official who handles issues of internal displacement said the situation in Sinjar had “returned to normal.”
“These displacements are temporary. The security situation is very good,” said the official, Ali Abbas.
The latest fighting began Sunday, with each side blaming the other for starting it.
A senior Iraqi army official said the clashes cost the lives of a dozen PKK fighters.
The army is seeking to apply an agreement reached between Baghdad and the KRG for the withdrawal of Yazidi and PKK fighters.
The Sinjar Resistance Units force – which is also affiliated with the Hashd al-Shaabi, (Popular Mobilization) militants, a pro-Iran ex-paramilitary coalition – accuses the army of wanting to control the region.
The Sinjar region has also been a target of Turkish airstrikes on the rear bases of the PKK terrorists.
The PKK has bases and training camps in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq and on the mountainous border with Turkey.
The PKK terrorist group managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in mid-2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from the Daesh terror group. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new base in Sinjar for its logistical and command-and-control activities. Around 450,000 Yazidis escaped Sinjar after the Daesh group took control of the region in mid-2014.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and base from which to carry out on Turkey. Iraq’s KRG previously called the PKK’s presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.
Turkey has long stressed that it will not tolerate terror threats posed against its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps are not taken, it would not shy away from targeting terror threats, particularly in Sinjar.