Kurdistan Kurds weren’t informed of PMF operation in West Mosul: Abadi

Kurds weren’t informed of PMF operation in West Mosul: Abadi
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks at a joint press conference with German Chancellor after their meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on February 11, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday recognized Kurdistan's “concern” regarding the operation carried out by the Hashd al-Shaabi south of Sinjar (Shingal), saying the issue has been fully resolved.

The Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), launched an operation on May 12 to retake the town of Qairawan and surrounding villages from the Islamic State (IS).

Over the past few days, Kurdish officials have expressed concern regarding the offensive south of the Ezidi-populated city of Shingal, calling on the militia to respect the borders of the Kurdistan Region while advancing in the area.

The progress of the PMF in the region raised fears among the Kurds that the Shi'a forces aim to strengthen their foothold which could ultimately trigger clashes with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

“There is some concern… among the brothers in the region about the PMF offensive in areas west of Mosul," Abadi said in a weekly press briefing in Baghdad.

Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, highlighted the fact that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had not been informed in advance about the PMF attack.

“This operation was approved by us, and the brothers in the region were not aware of this," the Premier said. "So they were surprised by operations in western Ninevah.”

The Hashd al-Shaabi is a Shi'a paramilitary group comprised of over 50 groups, formed in late 2014 to protect Shi'a shrines in southern Iraq from IS attacks. In Dec. 2016, the group was officially incorporated into the country’s armed forces.

Abadi also mentioned he had sent an official to the Kurdistan Region to address Kurdish concerns on the offensive near Shingal. He did not name the official.

“The issue has been resolved,” Abadi added.

On Monday, the National Security Adviser of Iraq Falah al-Fayadh visited Erbil and met with the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, but the Presidency's media office did not mention whether both sides discussed the PMF operation in the meeting.

The Iraqi Prime Minister stated that the military coordination between Baghdad and Erbil would continue in the fight against the Islamic State, commending Peshmerga for its vital role in defeating the jihadist group.

Abadi acknowledged that the Kurdistan Region opened its doors to the Iraqi forces allowing them to cross to Mosul and launch the campaign to liberate the city from IS which started in Oct. 2016.


Editing by G.H. Renaud