BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 11:01 GMT
'Clashes' in northern Iraq
PUK fighters
PUK fighters have clashed with the Ansar militants
Fierce fighting has erupted in northern Iraq between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Muslim militants believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, it is reported.

Fighters from a group known as Ansar al-Islam (supporters of Islam) took two PUK hilltop positions near the city of Halabja, close to the Iranian border, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The agency quotes a PUK commander as saying 20 of his fighters were killed or injured in the fighting.

Battles between the PUK and Ansar al-Islam have intensified over the past year in eastern parts of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

The Ansar are largely made up of Iraqi Kurds belonging to several Islamic groups which merged late last year.

They are also believed to include Arab fighters formerly based in Afghanistan, and thought to have links with the al-Qaeda network.

No rest

The Ansar fired heavy artillery as they charged the Kurdish positions, PUK commander Sheikh Jaffar Mustafa told AP.

He said the Ansar had succeeded because the PUK had sent some of its forces on leave for the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Fitr - which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

"They took advantage of the situation," Mr Mustafa said.

"Everywhere in the Muslim world people usually stop fighting for Ramadan," he added.

The PUK controls the eastern part of the autonomous zone in northern Iraq. Western areas are controlled by its rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

See also:

24 Jul 02 | Middle East
22 Jul 02 | Middle East
29 Jun 02 | Middle East
26 Mar 02 | Middle East
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes