ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) launched yet another attack on Peshmerga Forces in the northwest of Mosul province amid warnings the assault was imminent by the Kurdistan Region's top security body on Thursday.
The strong warning came as a Peshmerga source fighting the Zummar front told Kurdistan 24 that members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah were participating in the battle.
In Rabia, a town on the border with Syria, the PMF, known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, brought US equipment, including a significant number of Humvees and armored personnel carriers to reinforce tanks and artillery deployed there in recent days - barrels positioned towards Peshmerga Forces.
"This is unconstitutional," the statement by the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said.
It stated the Shia militias' movements were in violation of a tripartite agreement in October 2016 between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iraq, and the US requiring a withdrawal to areas held prior to the campaign to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS).
"The continued deployment and use of heavy equipment, including many American, signals intent to use military means to settle political disputes," the statement said.
"Despite the KRG's flexibility and repeated calls for dialogue, the US-led Global Coalition, and US Government, in particular, has signaled tacit approval by dangerously -- and incorrectly, referencing the need to implement the law," it read.
The US position sanctioned forces reporting to Iranian-backed PMF leader Hadi al-Ameri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis to launch "unprovoked attacks" against the people of the Kurdistan Region, the KRSC added.
"It also gives Iran an opening to expand its influence and destabilize the Kurdistan Region," it read.
The Iraqi Federal Government seems intent on advancing toward the border with Turkey to open the way for an alternative border crossing to Faysh Khabur, bypassing Kurdistan and cutting the region from the Kurdish-ruled territory in northern Syria.
The issue was top of the agenda Wednesday during Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's trip to Ankara, where he sat down with his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both have given him full support for the opening of a new border crossing.
"We call on the international community to intervene immediately to stop Iraq's reckless behavior. Baghdad should withdraw all forces from nearby areas and accept KRG's offer for unconditional talks to settle political differences. The United States, in particular, must apply the pressure necessary to stop Iraq. It must not allow Iranian-backed forces to use American equipment," the KRSC concluded.
Editing by G.H. Renaud