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Kurdish official says 10,000 fled northern Iraq fighting

Published: Updated:

More than 10,000 people have fled fighting between the Iraqi army and Yazidi fighters affiliated with Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an official from Iraq’s Kurdistan region said Thursday.

The latest figure is more than double the 4,000 which an official from the region reported on Tuesday had arrived.

The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking non-Arab, non-Muslim minority who were massacred by ISIS extremists in 2014.

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Clashes left one Iraqi soldier dead on Monday in the northern region of Sinjar, the Yazidi minority’s heartland which is the site of frequent confrontations between security forces and local fighters allied with the separatist PKK.

The latest fighting “has driven families to flee to the Kurdistan region,” with many heading to Dohuk province, said Dayane Hamo, an official in charge of crisis response.

“In three days, their number reached 1,711 families and 10,261 people,” Hamo said, adding they had been given food and other supplies to last a week.

The latest fighting began Sunday, with each side blaming the other for starting it.

A senior Iraqi army official said the clashes cost the lives of a dozen Yazidi fighters.

The army is seeking to apply an agreement reached between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region for the withdrawal of Yazidi and PKK fighters.

The Sinjar region has also been a target of Turkish airstrikes on rear bases of the PKK. Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist organization.

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