Thousands of people have fled a northern Iraqi town amid fierce clashes between the army and a militia linked to a Kurdish separatist group. Al Jazeera reports that clashes first erupted late on Sunday when the Iraqi military launched an operation to clear the area of YBS forces, a militia group with ties to the Turkish Kurdistan Worker’s Party and mostly comprised of members from the Yazidi religious minority. The fighting between the Iraqi army and the YBS intensified on Monday, spreading to other areas in Sinjar district. Soldiers attempted to open the roads but came under “heavy fire”, the military said in a statement, referencing the presence of “snipers on the rooftops” and mine-riddled roads.