ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The assault on Kirkuk led by the Iraqi Forces, with the help of the Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia, amounts to a declaration of war against the people of the Kurdistan Region, the Peshmerga General Command announced on Monday.
In a statement, the General Command of the Peshmerga Forces affirmed that Iraqi Forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), under the leadership of Iranian Commander Iqbalpur, launched a large-scale offensive on Kirkuk and surrounding areas.
“The attack is a clear declaration of war against the people of the Kurdistan Region,” the statement read.
The Peshmerga Command reiterated that the attack was launched by the Iraqi Federal Government, the PMF, and the Iranian Quds in retaliation to the people of the Kurdistan Region and Kirkuk freely expressing their will.
The statement mentioned that US weaponry, armor vehicles, Abrams tanks, and other coalition military equipment had been used in the assault.
“This military equipment was given to the Iraqi Forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) while such military support was not sent to the Peshmerga to defend themselves in the fight against the jihadist group,” the statement noted.
It also highlighted that despite the betrayal of some Iraqi officials, and the Iranian Forces' hand in the assault, Peshmerga would continue to defend the Kurdistan Region and would not allow their plans to break the will of the people to succeed.
“We urge all Peshmerga and courageous people to do whatever they can to resist and defeat the attackers. The Iraqi Government of Abadi [the Prime Minister of Iraq] are the ones to hold responsible for this threat against the people of Kurdistan, and they should pay a heavy price for this injustice,” the statement concluded.
The relationship between Erbil and Baghdad have greatly deteriorated following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by G.H. Renaud