ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Peshmerga on Sunday rejected local reports claiming Erbil and Baghdad had reached an agreement securing the Peshmerga forces’ return to disputed areas.
“Up to this point in time, there have been no formal talks or agreement between the Ministry of Peshmerga and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense on the matter,” said the Secretary-General for the Peshmerga Ministry, Jabar Yawar, in a statement.
Peshmerga forces, who were battling side by side with Iraqi security forces in the fight against the Islamic State, were pushed out of Kirkuk and other disputed territories in October 2017 by Iraqi forces and Shia militias, weeks after the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence.
Since then, those areas have witnessed increased instability, with jihadist activities on the rise in the most vulnerable cities and towns.
Over the past year, both Erbil and Baghdad have been encouraged by the US-led coalition to cooperate and prevent the Islamic State from regrouping in the country, namely in the disputed areas where the jihadist group continues to carry out insurgency attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings despite Iraq declaring victory against the group in Dec. 2017.
“The only thing we have agreed on is the need to create better cooperation to completely eliminate the threats of ISIS, particularly in Diyala, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Makhmur, and Mosul,” the Peshmerga official added.
“We plan to conduct official talks and discuss the details of such joint operations” in the future, Yawar noted.
Editing by Nadia Riva