ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The General Command of the Peshmerga Forces of the Kurdistan Region released a statement on Friday calling all Kurdish forces to be combat-ready against any possible attack by the Iraqi Forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militia currently in southern Kirkuk.
In the announcement, the Peshmerga's General Command stated that on Thursday night, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and some units of the Iraqi security forces set up positions in areas south of Kirkuk to launch an attack on Peshmerga-held territories.
It mentions that the deployment and movement of Iraqi armed forces in the area follows a string of threats issued by Iraqi officials and military commanders against the people of the Kurdistan Region in the past few days and that the troops are being motivated and pushed by external influences.
“These threats are a dangerous indication of an imminent war to be launched against [the] Kurdistan [Region],” the statement emphasized.
“We caution the international community and the Global Coalition that this complex situation will lead to another catastrophe,” should they fail to take appropriate action to contain the current military escalation.
The Peshmerga Command noted that the Kurdistan Region is against any more violence and bloodshed, and called on the Iraqi Federal Government to “act responsibly” and use dialogue to resolve its disputes with Erbil rather than force.
“Threatening attacks and provocation will not be tolerated, and will not solve any problem,” the statement continued. “Peshmerga Forces will defend the people of Kurdistan and will not allow anyone to forcefully impose themselves or use violence and force against the people of Kurdistan.”
The General Command of the Peshmerga Forces urged all the Peshmerga Forces to “stand fully prepared to defend the Kurdistan Region” and respond to any attack on the Region.
The move by Iraqi security forces is seen as yet another escalation in the retaliatory measures taken by the Iraqi Federal Government against the Kurdistan Region's Sep. 25 referendum on independence.
Senior Kurdish officials have called for dialogue and negotiations with Baghdad to resolve the issues, but the central government insists the results of the referendum be canceled as a pre-condition to initiate talks.
Editing by G.H. Renaud