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Clashes between YBS and ISF personnel near Sinjar result in several casualties

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At around 21:00 on 17 March, an altercation between Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) members and personnel from 1st Battalion, 71st Brigade, 15th Iraqi Army Division, escalated into an armed clash at a checkpoint near Hasaruk Village, located northwest of Sinjar along the Syrian border. At least four YBS members originated from Syria, and were reportedly involved in smuggling activities supporting counterparts via this illicit border crossing. Casualty figures conflicted, with two Iraqi Army soldiers killed, as many as two YBS fighters killed, and multiple others wounded. Significant mediation efforts were initiated, with PMF deputy chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis arriving in the area on the morning of 18 March amongst heightened security postures.

This incident stands out as the most significant clash between YBS personnel and ISF in the recent past. Altercations at checkpoints involving YBS convoys have noted sporadically in the past. Tensions between the YBS and GoI climaxed in the aftermath of a Turkish airstrike near Sinjar on 15 August 2018, which killed a prominent YBS commander and multiple other senior members. The GoI was accused of providing intelligence support for the airstrike, or at least offering tacit approval. Similar tensions accompanied later Turkish airstrikes near Sinjar and Makhmour on 13 December.

More recently, significant animosity surrounded the ISF’s closure of the Bara Border Crossing Point, which disrupted YBS border access and posed an obstacle for returning Yazidi individuals who were freed from eastern Syria. Recent border issues in conjunction with persistent tensions between the YBS and GoI likely shaped the particularly violent nature of the 17 March incident.

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