ERBIL, IRAQ -
Rival Kurdish groups clashed in Iraq's
northwestern Sinjar region on Friday, two
Kurdish security sources said.
The deadly fighting erupted when
Peshmerga Rojava forces moved towards the
border with Syria, encroaching on territory
controlled by a local affiliate of the
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The unrest highlights the risk of
conflict and turf war between the multiple
forces arrayed against Islamic State, many
of which lean on regional patrons for
political support and arms.
The Peshmerga Rojava is made up of Kurds
from Syria and was formed and trained in
Iraq with the backing of Masoud Barzani,
president of the Kurdish Regional Government
in northern Iraq.
Friday's clashes, which lasted several
hours, pitted them against the YBS, which
was set up there by the PKK after it came to
the aid of the Yazidi population when the
area was overrun by Islamic State in the
summer of 2014.
"There are martyrs and wounded on both
sides," one security source said.
The war with Islamic State has enabled
Kurds to expand their territory and
influence in both Iraq and Syria, but it has
also heightened competition amongst them,
particularly in the Sinjar region.
The PKK's foothold in the area has put it
on a collision course with Barzani's
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which is
aligned with Turkey and counts Sinjar as
part of its territory.
Turkey is at war with the PKK. On Friday,
foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday
said the group posed "a threat against the
legitimate regional government in Northern
Iraq and they are used by some countries
against the current administration there."
"It's our duty to destroy these terrorist
organizations wherever they are," the
minister told reporters in Ankara.
Another PKK affiliate has been in control
of Kurdish territory in northeast Syria on
the border with Turkey since the civil war
between forces loyal and opposed to
President Bashar al-Assad.
That group, the PYD, has repeatedly
denied entry to the Peshmerga Rojava.
In a statement on Friday, the YBS said
the fighting began when the Peshmerga Rojava
tried to seize its positions in Khanasor.
The YBS accused Turkey of instigating the
"It is a totally provocative initiative,"
the YBS said.
Most Yazidis are still displaced from
their homes, but some families who returned
to Sinjar fled again on Friday, including a
19-year from the town of Khanasor where the
clashes took place.
"It's a struggle between two political
parties but the victims are the Yazidis," he
said on condition of anonymity. "Aren't they
supposed to be fighting Daesh (Islamic
State)? Let them go and get rid of them."