MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Two Iraqi soldiers and two fighters of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces were killed on Sunday as the two sides clashed in a mountainous northern area, Iraqi and Kurdish security sources said.
Iraqi Prime Minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces Mohammed al-Sudani ordered forming a high-level committee to investigate, a military spokesperson for Sudani said in a statement.
Fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had evacuated positions near the town of Makhmour on Saturday and handed them over to the Iraqi army.
But Peshmerga fighters from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the ruling party in Iraqi Kurdistan, tried to retake the positions on Sunday, triggering the clashes, the sources said.
Army and Peshmerga sources said earlier that two Iraqi army soldiers and one Peshmerga fighter were killed. Another Peshmerga lieutenant colonel died of his wounds, said the sources.
Six Iraqi soldiers and five Peshmerga fighters were wounded. Two of the Iraqi soldiers were in critical condition, said health service sources.
The clashes lasted for around two hours before abating when commanders from both sides sought to defuse tensions, said military and Peshmerga sources.
Iraqi army troops are still in control over the mountainous positions, said three army sources.
But both sides are sending reinforcements to the area, said military sources, calling the situation "fragile".
Makhmour is a mountainous area about 70 km (45 miles) southeast of Mosul and 60 km (40 miles) southwest of the Kurdish capital Erbil.
Last time armed clashes broke out between the two parties was in 2017 when Iraqi government forces launched a surprise offensive in retaliation for an independence referendum organized by the Kurdish regional government.
(Reporting by Jamal al-Badrani in Mosul and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by John Stonestreet and Josie Kao)