Escalating Tensions Between Iraq and its Autonomous Kurdistan Region

NINEVEH GOVERNORATE, Iraq (September 22, 2017) – With the proposed Kurdish referendum approaching quickly (9/25/2017), Iraqi and Kurdish military units engage in intense skirmishes at their respective borders. 

The Popular Mobilization Units of Iraq (PMU) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) exchanged heavy fire in the Sinjar region of the Nineveh Governorate (Northwestern Iraq). The intense clashes arose when the PKK attacked a unit of PMU fighters at a checkpoint in proximity of the town Shlo. Casualties appear to be solely civilians, that being Yazidi men and women attempting to travel to Iraqi Government-held areas. In totality, 3 Yezidis have been reported dead and 2 injured while leaving to Iraqi areas. The area has been known to be a sensitive crossover of Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) and the Pershmerga for a long period, where reports of force against locals would often arise most particularly from the Peshmerga.

Clases have ended between the 2 parties in the Sinjar region. Both parties reconciled and are currently working on establishing enhanced communication protocols in order to prevent such a scenario again. With a possible referendum of the dominantly Kurdish region in Iraq in the coming days, such clashes may eventually lead to larger-scale clashes in the near future.

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