ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish Peshmerga Forces withdrew from Makhmour and Gwer areas south of Erbil, a day after Iraqi troops and the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia took control of the city of Kirkuk on Monday.
“What happened yesterday in Kirkuk affected all the plans that the Peshmerga forces had,” a Peshmerga Commander from the Makhmour front line told Kurdistan 24, on the condition of anonymity.
He mentioned the Peshmerga had pulled out its troops from Makhmour and Gwer, but that Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), had not yet entered the area.
In mid-2014, the Islamic State (IS) overran the two towns which were liberated by the Peshmerga forces a few months later.
Sources in the area also reported that the Peshmerga had evacuated the local Khormala Power Plant.
Early Tuesday morning, Ezidi units in the Peshmerga ranks reached an agreement with Ezidis within the Hashd al-Shaabi to let the militia enter the city without any fighting or bloodshed, the Peshmerga Command for the western Tigris front claimed.
On Monday, both Iraqi Forces and the Shiite militias took control of the city of Kirkuk, which has been under the protection of the Peshmerga Forces since mid-2014 after the Iraqi army collapsed and failed to defend the city from the threats of the jihadist group.
Tensions have significantly escalated between Erbil and Baghdad following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
The federal government has imposed a set of punitive measures and sanctions on the Kurdistan Region for holding the independence vote.
Editing by G.H. Renaud