Hashd al-Sha’abi’s Turkmen fighters, Kurdish forces clash in Iraq’s Salahuddin province

Iraqi Turkmen fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have engaged in a two-hour gun battle with Kurdish forces in the country’s central province of Salahuddin as tensions remain high between Kurdish and Turkmen political parties in the wake of last month’s independence referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the skirmishes between fighters from the pro-government PMU — better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi — and members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan took place in the ethnically-mixed city of Tuz Khurmatu, located some 88 kilometers south of Kirkuk, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The sources added that a dozen Kurdish families were displaced from the predominantly Turkmen district of Askari to Kurdish neighborhoods of the city.

The exchange of mainly automatic gunfire reportedly left no casualties.

The referendum on secession of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region was held on September 25 despite strong opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the international community, and Iraq’s neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.