Iraqi army, Peshmerga sign agreement on Hawija offensive

The artillery of Peshmerga forces. File photo.

Kirkuk ( The Iraqi army has signed a military agreement with the Kurdish troops on ongoing battles in Islamic State’s holdout in Kirkuk.

The agreement was signed on Sunday in Kirkuk in attendance of a representative of the U.S-led Coalition alongside officials of Peshmerga and the Iraqi army.

Speaking to Shafaq News, a military source from Peshmerga said the agreement stipulates allowing a passageway for Iraqi troops from south of Kirkuk to attack Hawija. Peshmerga should take part in the battles depending on its artillery and heavy weapons.

Peshmerga, according to the agreement, should also open a passageway to people displaced from Hawija. Troops should be ready to provide personnel required for the battles.

Troops deployed at the current positions should stay with no need to withdraw.

A high-level delegation from Iraqi Defense Ministry reportedly met on Friday with the Kurdish Peshmerga command in Kirkuk.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command announced launch of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat. However, Lt.Gen.Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Peshmerga Ministry, said Peshmerga will not take part in the offensive.

In remarks earlier this month, Yawar denied news circulated in media over military tension between Peshmerga and the federal government over Hawija. Later, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Peshmerga Ministry, Maj.Gen. Qaraman Sheikh Kamal, said Baghdad cannot start the offensive without coordination with Peshmerga.

Kurdistan previously declared intentions to include Hawija within the referendum, slated for September 25.

Hawija and other neighboring regions, west of Kirkuk, have been held by IS since mid-2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

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