ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and former President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, and an accompanying military delegation on Saturday visited the outskirts of the town of Perde (Altun Kupri) north of Kirkuk.
Barzani’s visit follows reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on his forces to reopen a strategic road between Erbil and Kirkuk.
Iraqi Shafaq news agency said the Iraqi Prime Minister ordered the reopening of the road within the next three days.
Kurdish officials, however, say they have yet to meet with Iraqi officials to discuss the matter.
The road has been closed since Iraqi forces, and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias overran Kirkuk on Oct. 16 driving Kurdish troops from the region. The move was a military response from Baghdad against the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum in September.
The road is not just a strategic route between the two cities but is a primary means for Iraqi and Kurdish travelers coming from other provinces in the south and north and vice versa.
KDP President Barzani as well as KRSC Chancellor Masrour Barzani visited the headquarters of the Peshmerga forces stationed in the vicinity of Perde to wish them a happy Eid.
A Kurdistan 24 correspondent in the region said the visit aims at evaluating preparations to reopen the Erbil-Kirkuk road after nearly nine months of closure.
Earlier in the week, Peshmerga Commander Kamal Kirkuki said there were international efforts from British and American military officials to reopen the path linking the Kurdistan Region capital and the province of Kirkuk.
“The Americans and British agree with us on the need to open the road between Erbil and Kirkuk. We have no objection to that, but the ball is in Baghdad’s court,” he told Kurdistan 24.