Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Kurdistan’s Peshmerga ministry said Tuesday its troops withdrew in face of advancing Iraqi government forces in Kirkuk to avoid bloodshed.
The ministry’s secretary-general, Jabbar Yawar, told Alhurra network that Peshmerga withdrew from their positions in Kirkuk as Iraqi forces entered the city late Sunday. He said there hadn’t been any prior coordination with the Iraqis before the offensive.
“Peshmerga found it was the right thing to leave their positions so as not to shed blood, and to pull out quietly and properly, paving the way for federal forces to position at those locations,” he said, according to remarks published by the network’s Arabic service.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said Monday its forces, backed by Popular Mobilization Forces, had taken over Kirkuk’s province building, main oil fields and military bases as part of an incursion ordered by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to regain government control over territories where sovereignty is disputed with Kurdistan Region. Reports have said the Iraqi troops took over much of the city without fighting.
Baghdad had declared intentions to reclaim control over regions disputed with Erbil in response to Kurdistan’s independence vote in September, which overwhelmingly backed independence from Iraq.