ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A commander in the Peshmerga forces says there are international efforts to reopen a road linking the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil with the province of Kirkuk, a path that has been closed for nearly nine months.
Kamal Kirkuki, the Commander of the Peshmerga forces, told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday that American and British military officials had expressed their concerns about the ongoing closure of the Kirkuk-Erbil road.
“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 said.
Kirkuki added that although a British delegation has promised to solve this problem soon and to open the road, there has been no timetable set for this resolution.
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.
The Peshmerga Commander said he hopes the road reopens soon so people can be free and their rights no longer violated.
Farmers in the Perde region which lies on the path between Kirkuk and Erbil worry about the future of their livelihood as the closure directly impacts their ability to transfer crops to markets in the Kurdistan capital.
“Our livelihood is at risk. The road closure presents a significant problem,” a Kurdish farmer expressed his concerns to Kurdistan 24.
“There is a great oppression against the poor people in this region.”
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Bushman Sadiq)