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Iraqi army says two soldiers killed in clashes with PKK fighters

Military says clashes took place in Sinjar in northwestern Iraq after PKK fighters were denied passage through a checkpoint
Security incidents pitting the Iraqi military against armed groups other than Islamic State (IS) are rare (AFP)

Clashes between the Iraqi army and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) left two soldiers dead and five of the fighters injured, the Iraqi military has said in a statement.

The clashes took place on Sunday in Sinjar in northwestern Iraq after the PKK fighters were denied passage through an army checkpoint, the statement said.

It adding that the fighters drove a vehicle into one soldier and attacked the checkpoint.

The PKK did not immediately comment.

Security incidents pitting the Iraqi military against armed groups other than Islamic State (IS) are rare.

Sinjar, near the border with Syria, was one of the first areas to be recaptured from IS in 2015 during a US-backed campaign to drive the group out of vast areas they once controlled in Syria and Iraq.

The security situation in the remote mountainous region remains fragile, however, with the presence of a number of different armed groups.

The PKK has fought a decades-long insurgency in southern Turkey but has bases in northern Iraq, including near Sinjar.

It is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Iraqi paramilitaries who helped defeat IS are also stationed around Sinjar, as are Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces - PKK rivals who serve the authorities that run northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.