Country Risk

Iraqi government will likely favour mediation with PKK over military escalation in Sinjar

22 March 2019

An hour-long exchange of small-arms fire on the Syrian-Iraqi border on 17 March between the Yekîneyên Berxwedana Şengalê (YBŞ)‎‎, an ethnic Kurdish Yazidi militia affiliated to Kurdish separatist group the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (PKK), and the Iraqi army’s 15th Division resulted in the deaths of two Iraqi soldiers and five militants. According to official Iraqi statements, the incident was triggered by the YBŞ’s refusal to stop at an Iraqi army checkpoint in Sinjar, Ninewa province, and provide identification papers. The YBŞ claimed, however, that its patrol had been ambushed while trying to cross the border into Iraq from Syria. On 19 March, further violence followed failed mediation efforts, during which the Iraqi army demanded that the YBŞ hand over wanted commanders or it would be attacked; the YBŞ has so far refused and reportedly demanded unhindered access between Rojava, an area in Syria under de facto Syrian Kurdish control, and Sinjar.

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