Iraqi Army Launches Offensive against Sinjar Militias

Iraqi Army Launches Offensive against Sinjar Militias

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Baghdad launched a military operation to clear the northern Iraqi province of Sinjar of a militia group linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

On Sunday evening, heavy fighting erupted between the Iraqi army and the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) militia group near Dugri. On Monday the fighting also spread to the town of Sinune.

Fierce clashes ensued between the two sides, with Iraqi army forces gathering checkpoints of Sinjar's militias.

The clashes have seen Sinjar residents displaced from their homes, according to Iraqi media.

The Sinjar region is also 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 Sinjar clinic that was treating a PKK member.

To the northeast of Sinjar, Ankara last month launched a fresh military offensive in Iraqi Kurdistan against the PKK.

The YBS has controlled much of Sinjar since 2014 when, along with allied PKK militia. The group played a key role in clearing Sinjar of Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists and are currently engaged with the Turkish army. Though the PKK officially announced their withdrawal in 2018, the YBS remained.

While the YBS has been hailed in the past for defending Sinjar against Daesh, residents were becoming increasingly sick of instability and conflict between different factions.

In October 2020, Baghdad and the devolved Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed an agreement on joint management of Sinjar, which included a stipulation that all non-federal armed forces should leave the province.

The renewed tensions between the Iraqi army and the YBS come after a new Turkish operation against the PKK in Duhok province on April 18.

Turkey has heavily opposed the presence of the YBS and has carried out several air strikes on its leaders in the past.

Iraq's spokesman for joint operations, Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, told the Alahed website on Monday that the Iraqi army would not allow any "armed manifestations" in Sinjar and called for the YBS to withdraw.