Peshmerga forces affiliated with northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have withdrawn from some 95 per cent of all territories disputed between the KRG and Baghdad, Nasreddin Said, the KRG’s minister for disputed territories, said today.
Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Said noted that the Peshmerga withdrawal had been carried out as a direct result of joint operations conducted in mid-October by the Iraqi army, police and Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).
According to Said, Peshmerga forces had “secured” these areas after the Iraqi army left vast tracts of territory to the Daesh terrorist group in mid-2014.
“For over three years, the Peshmerga had total control of the area from [northern Iraq’s] Sinjar district to the city of Mosul to Diyala’s Hanekin district,” he said.
“According to Iraq’s constitution, joint [federal/Peshmerga] security forces should provide security in Kirkuk and in other disputed areas,” he said.
“But now, only the Iraqi army and the Hashd Al-Shaabi [PMF] are performing this function,” Said added.
Saying many local families had fled to KRG-controlled areas after military operations in mid-October, Said asserted that members of KRG President Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party now feared for their safety and were unable to return to their homes.
Upon the instruction of Iraq Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, federal forces launched military operations on 16 October with a view to securing Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province and other territories “disputed” between the KRG and Baghdad.
The Peshmerga, which had held these territories since mid-2014, withdrew without incident.