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Fighting in northern Iraq sparks mass exodus |

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DOHUK, Iraq –

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 in Iraq’s Kurdistan region said Thursday.

The latest figure is more than double the 4,000 who an official in the region said arrived on Tuesday.

Yazidis are a non-Arab, non-Muslim Kurdish minority who were massacred by jihadists from the Islamic State group in 2014.

Clashes left an Iraqi soldier dead on Monday in the northern region of Sinjar, the heartland of Yazidi minorities which is the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and local fighters allied with PKK separatists.

The latest fighting has caused families to flee to the Kurdistan region, many of whom are heading for Dohuk province, said Dayane Hamo, head of crisis response.

Within three days, their numbers reached 1,711 families and 10,261 people, Hamo said, adding that they had received food and other supplies to last for a week.

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

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

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

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

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