ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – During his reception of a delegation from the Kurdistan Region on Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron praised the role of Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
“The Peshmerga forces led by Mr. Masoud Barzani played an important and detailed role in countering the terrorism of IS,” Macron stated.
“France respects the sacrifices of the Peshmerga led by Mr. Barzani, and we cannot forget their achievements,” the French President added.
Former Kurdistan Region President Barzani led the Peshmerga forces on several fronts during their battles against the extremist group, where the Kurdish troops recorded great victories.
On Saturday, Macron held talks with a high-ranking Kurdish delegation headed by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on the escalating issues between Erbil and Baghdad.
Following the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum on Sep. 25, the Iraqi government responded by enforcing collective punitive measures including the use of military force in disputed areas.
On Oct. 16, Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias attacked Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, taking over the administration of the disputed region held by the Kurdish forces since 2014.
During his meeting with the KRG Prime Minister at the Élysée Palace, Macron stressed that the differences between the two sides should be resolved through dialogue, adding that the armed factions inside Iraq should be dissolved, including the Iranian-backed militias.
The French President also called for the implementation of the long-delayed Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution concerning the status of disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad.
According to Article 140, the future of Kirkuk and other disputed areas were to be decided through a referendum, but this was never implemented.
Kirkuk, home to a mixture of Kurds, Turkmens, Christians, and Shia and Sunni Arabs is one of the most disputed areas between Iraq and Kurdistan.