Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) A commander at the Kurdish Peshmerga forces has reiterated there are no military mobilization by Iraqi forces near Kirkuk, hours after the autonomous region raised alarm about a possible invasion.
In a statement quoted by Shafaq News, Wasta Rasoul, a Peshmerga commander for southern Kirkuk region, said Thursday they had not detected “any unacceptable movements by the Iraqi forces”.
“Will will respond to attempts by any force to approach our locations. We are fully prepared to confront any danger.” Rasoul said.
On Wednesday, Kurdistan’s Security Council said it had received information that Iraq was preparing to invade Kurdish-held Kirkuk.
“We’re receiving dangerous msgs Iraqi forces, incl PMU & Fed Pol, are preparing major attack in South/West Kirkuk & North Mosul on Kurdistan,” a tweet by the autonomous region’s security council read, referring to Federal Police and allied Popular Mobilization Units.
But a statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office dismissed the warning.
“Iraqi troops waged fierce battles in Kirkuk regions as well as Mosul to liberate them from IS,” Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesperson of the media office, said in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s normal that troops remain deployed there to preserve security, facilitate repatriation of the displaced and prevent the return back of terrorists.”
“It’s unreasonable that the troops get deployed for liberation and then return back to barracks,” he added.
Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the Peshmerga Ministry, was also quoted denying the report.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has recently repeated calls for Kurdistan Region to hand over security responsibilities at disputed areas, including Kirkuk, to the central government, urging Kurdish Peshmerga forces to cooperate in that respect. His call came as part of a set of demands that followed a referendum held by Kurdistan in September in which 92% voted for independence from Iraq.
Iraq and other world powers have deemed the move unconstitutional and untimely.
Other demands by Baghdad included Iraqi government control over airports, border crossings and communication networks in the region.
Kirkuk has been at the center of the political crisis which erupted as Baghdad and Erbil disputed over the controversial referendum. The Iraqi government had removed Kirkuk’s governor, Najm al-Din Karim, a Kurdish politician, for backing the poll.