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Disputes over Iraq's Yazidi areas lead to fears of PMU-peshmerga clash

The Popular Mobilization Units is involved in military operations in Yazidi areas of northern Iraq, angering peshmerga, who argue that the PMU is not allowed to do so by an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad.
A group of Arab soldiers who have joined Kurdish peshmerga forces take part their graduation ceremony at a training camp in Duhok province, Iraq, February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ari Jalal - RTX2ZZVX

ERBIL, Iraq — Amid fierce fighting pitting Iraqi forces against the Islamic State (IS) over Mosul, in Ninevah province, tensions have risen between the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Kurdish peshmerga. On May 23, the Committee on Kurdish Areas Outside the Region, an official entity in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), called PMU activity in Sinjar suspicious, based on the force not coordinating with the peshmerga in the area, which is close to Iraqi Kurdistan and among the territory over which Baghdad and Erbil have had disputes about control.

The PMU on May 13 had launched an operation to liberate the district of Sinjar and surrounding villages from IS. On May 23, PMU fighters took Qayrawan, which is administratively part of Sinjar but not far from Iraqi Kurdistan. After the battle for Qayrawan, dozens of members of the Yazidi peshmerga, including military officers, deserted ranks to join the Baghdad-supported PMU.

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