ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi army on Wednesday rejected claims that Kurdish Peshmerga forces had taken control of a checkpoint located in the disputed town of Makhmour, located southwest of the region's capital city of Erbil.
This came as social media users posted a video which was purported to show Peshmerga forces at a Makhmour checkpoint, entering the town.
The video appears to include footage from the standoff between Peshmerga and federal Iraqi security forces in the wake of the Kurdistan Region's September 2017 independence referendum. The attack by the Iraqi military, along with the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias, pushed Peshmerga from multiple areas disputed by Baghdad and Erbil.
“What was published is an old incident,” said an Iraq army statement, in response to the posts after they began to gain traction.
“The parties promoting this video are trying to” fuel tensions in the region, it read, adding that units from Iraq's 14th Army Division currently hold the post in question.
The Security Media Cell agency, the public communications office of the national military, called for people to be “careful” when sharing information.
The statement did not accuse any specific party of trying to increase tensions between the federal and regional governments.
Iraq’s defense ministry also commented on the social media posts, asserting that they were intended to “confuse public opinion.” It also added that “Makhmour district, as well as the surrounding areas, is stable through the deployment of our security forces.”
Senior Kurdish officials have previously stated that they would seek continued dialogue with Baghdad to lay a firm foundation for improved relations.
Recently, a number of Iraqi parties and other groups appear to be spreading such reports, allegedly aimed at sewing increased tension between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government. Among the wide range of lingering issues include the oil file, security, and the KRG's share of the national budget.
Editing by John J. Catherine