ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Peshmerga official on Sunday said he was aware of the current reorganization of Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias in the Nineveh province but noted there have been no talks between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on the return of Kurdish forces to disputed areas.
The Peshmerga are “aware of the movements by the Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces],” but “where they retreated from, the Iraqi forces remain,” the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Chief of Staff of the Peshmerga Forces, Jamal Eminki, explained to Kurdistan 24.
According to a document issued on Aug. 2, the PMF retreated from a number of areas west of the Tigris River in the Nineveh province, a move which officials have labeled “dangerous” as it could lead to the re-emergence of the Islamic State (IS).
Amid reports of the PMF’s retreat, Eminki spoke to Kurdistan 24 during a ceremony marking the end of a course at the Training Center for Peshmerga Forces in Erbil’s Soran district.
Eminki stated the KRG and the federal government of Iraq have made no plans to meet and discuss an agreement for the possible return of Peshmerga forces to the contested areas.
“Up until now, there have been no plans or deals with [Iraq‘s government].”
The Chief of Staff, however, noted the importance of having Peshmerga forces present in the area to ease the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
“Only the Peshmerga forces can facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes,” Eminki asserted, adding that “operational roads [to the liberated areas] are limited.”
On March 5, officials from the Duhok and Nineveh Governorates announced the reopening of the road connecting the two neighboring provinces after it was blocked for over three years during the war against IS.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 Correspondent Tayfur Mohammed)