Iraqi soldier killed in clashes with Yazidi fighters

Army official claims a dozen Yazidi fighters also died in the battles

The view of Mount Sinjar from the roof of a school in Kocho, previously used by ISIS, but now abandoned after the militants were flushed out by Shiite militias helped by Yazidis. Florian Neuhof for The National

An Iraqi soldier was killed and two others were injured in clashes on Monday with Yazidi fighters in the northern region of Sinjar, an army officer and an MP said.

The heartland of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, Sinjar is the site of frequent confrontations between security forces and local fighters affiliated with Turkey’s banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The two sides traded accusations of having ignited the latest fighting, which broke out on Sunday.

Sherwan Al Douberdani, a provincial deputy, said a soldier was killed. A senior army official said two other soldiers were injured.

The clashes also cost the lives of a dozen Yazidi fighters, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In a statement, Iraqi security forces accused the Yazidi fighters of setting up roadblocks in the village of Snuny, north of Sinjar, and preventing civilians from passing through.

Soldiers tried to open the roads on Monday morning but came under “heavy fire”, the statement said.

It pointed to the presence of “snipers on the rooftops” and mine-riddled roads.

The army responded and restored order there, the statement said.

The Iraqi military used heavy artillery in the clashes, according to ANF, a news agency close to the separatists.

Mr Al Douberdani said the Yazidis were refusing demands to pull out of Sinjar and for “the withdrawal of foreign agents”, a reference to the PKK.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, a Yazidi enslaved for months by ISIS who devastated her community in 2014, called for an end to the violence.

“After years of displacement, recent returnees are once again forced to flee their homes due to current armed clashes in Sinjar. I call on the international community to intervene and work with the Iraqi government to resolve the region's ongoing security issues & protect civilians,” she tweeted.

Sinjar is a frequent target of Turkish air strikes on rear bases of the PKK. Last August, eight people were killed in a Turkish strike on a clinic in the region that was treating a member of the group.

To the north-east of Sinjar, Ankara last month launched a new military offensive in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish against the PKK.

The UN mission in Iraq tweeted to condemn the latest violence, saying it was “deeply concerned about clashes in Sinjar, with grave consequences for civilians”.

“Sinjaris’ safety and security should be front and centre. They’ve suffered enormously in the past and deserve peace under state authority,” it said.

Updated: May 02, 2022, 9:55 PM
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