UPDATED: KRG re-opens Erbil - Kirkuk road despite Baghdad's 'tough' conditions
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - After the Iraqi government had reportedly imposed three 'difficult conditions' before allowing the Kurdistan Region to re-open the Erbil - Kirkuk main road, a Peshmerga commander announced on Friday that they had done so anyway.
The road has been closed since last year's Oct. 16 takeover of the Kirkuk Province, a source from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Friday.
"Iraq is not ready to re-open the Erbil - Kirkuk highway," the source told Kurdistan 24.
"They have put forward three difficult conditions for the KRG," the source added without giving any details.
After four months of closure, the KRG last week held preparations to open the road, but it was unclear if they would do so, and in doing, defy Baghdad's demands.
On Friday, Kurdish Peshmerga Commander Kamal Kirkuki announced in a press conference that the KRG had indeed that day opened all the roads between Erbil and Kirkuk, including Makhmour road.
Following last year’s referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region, Iraqi forces along with the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militia attacked and took over the oil-rich Kirkuk province and other disputed territories which were under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
The military takeover led to the displacement of 180,000 people to different cities of the Kurdistan Region.
The closure of the road between the two provinces was implemented after clashes erupted when Peshmerga Forces halted the advance of Iraqi forces and the PMF in Pirde (Altun Kupri), located on the outskirts of Erbil.
Due to the violent confrontation, the main road between Erbil and Kirkuk was closed, preventing people from traveling between the two provinces.
Editing by Nadia Riva