The Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs has said that its forces came under attack from the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) early on Dec. 16, Rudaw reported.
Eight fighters from the YPG attempted to cross the border near Sihela and enter the KRG lands, Deputy Peshmerga Minister Sarbast Lazgin told reporters on Dec. 16 in Erbil, northern Iraq.
“Peshmerga forces warned them, and that is when three of them retreated, but five of them kept proceeding as though they were trying to distract our forces,” Lazgeen was quoted as saying by Rudaw. “We were then attacked by a group of 50 to 60 armed men that came from Rojava (northeast Syria).”
KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani condemned the incident as an "unprovoked attack by the YPG." "This was a clear and illegal violation of the territory of Kurdistan Region and the authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government," he said in a statement on Dec. 16.
"The YPG cannot be allowed to exploit foreign assistance to launch attacks on our territory. Any repeat would be seriously damaging to regional security,” he was quoted as saying by Rudaw.
The YPG have reportedly denied the attack.
The incident just comes just two days after a Peshmerga was killed in clashes between the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Amedi, Duhok province – the latest in a series of clashes between the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PKK, Rudaw said.
Mazloum Abdi, general commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), slammed the incident as a “shameful” KDP attack on the PKK in a tweet on Dec. 16. The YPG is the main element within the SDF.
Lazgeen accused Abdi of supporting the PKK, saying: "We want to deal with problems in a peaceful way through dialogue, but it seems Rojava cannot stray from Qandil's ideology, and this could be seen in Mazloum Abdi's tweet."
The PKK has its headquarters in the KRG's Qandil Mountains and has fought the Turkish state for decades. Ankara considers the YPG to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the United States and the EU.
Lazgeen told Rudaw that the KRG has “no intention” of fighting the PKK, but wants the group to leave the KRG lands. “We have dealt with a lot of damage caused by their presence," he said.