Fearing attack by Iraqi forces, Kurds take precautions, block the road to Mosul

 Members of a Kurdish Peshmerga battalion queue up outside a polling station in Arbil as they wait to cast their vote in the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, 2017.
Members of a Kurdish Peshmerga battalion queue up outside a polling station in Arbil as they wait to cast their vote in the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, 2017.
Kurdish peshmerga forces on Thursday blocked roads from Iraqi Kurdistan to the country’s second city Mosul in response to Iraqi troop movements, a senior Kurdish military official told AFP.

“The two main roads connecting Arbil and Dohuk to Mosul were cut off on Thursday with sand embankments as a precautionary measure after we detected an increase in deployments and movements of Iraqi forces near the front line with the peshmerga,” he said.

The move came after Kurdish authorities said late on Wednesday they feared Iraqi government forces and allied paramilitary units were preparing to launch an assault on the autonomous northern region.

“We’re receiving dangerous messages that the Hashed al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) and federal police are preparing a major attack from the southwest of Kirkuk and north of Mosul against Kurdistan,” the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Security Council said.

The warning came amid spiralling tensions between Iraq’s Kurds and central authorities in the wake of last month’s Kurdish independence referendum.


In the oil-rich region of Kirkuk, which is disputed between the Kurds and Baghdad, a local commander told AFP there were no immediate signs of movement.

“We have seen no unacceptable movement on the part of Iraqi forces,” Wasta Rasul, the commander of peshmerga forces in southern Kirkuk, told AFP.

He said the peshmerga were in meetings with the US-led coalition that has intervened in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State group and that “its aircraft are monitoring the situation carefully”.

The coalition has worked with the peshmerga, as well as Iraqi pro-government forces, in the battle to oust IS from areas it seized in Iraq in mid-2014.

Security sources said that Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) and Rapid Response Force had deployed more forces near Rashad, a village some 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Kirkuk, near peshmerga positions.

Asked by AFP, the spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, refused to confirm or deny any preparations for an offensive.

“What I can say is that our forces in Hawija have accomplished their duty and have started to clear the region of explosives and restore the law in order to allow people to go home,” said the spokesman, Brigadier General Yahiya Rassul.

Iraqi forces last week retook control of Hawija, one of IS’s last enclaves in the country, which is close to Kurdish majority areas.

Baghdad and Arbil have been locked in a stand-off since voters in Kurdistan overwhelmingly opted two weeks ago for independence in a referendum that the central government slammed as illegal.

Iraq has cut Kurdistan off from the outside world by severing air links to the region, while neighbouring Turkey and Iran have threatened to close their borders and block oil exports.

FRANCE24/(AFP)

  • Niemals

    The Kurds are, as it seems, always to be mentioned only when they are fighting the enemies of the West, or
    recently the terrorists of the IS.

    Of course there were Kurdish acts of violence in Turkey – on the other hand, there was little criticism of the continued suppression of Kurdish minorities.
    There are strong Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and in Syria – countries which have their current form of predominantly European colonial policy or wars.

    None of these states is interested in sacrificing its unity – even in parts – and forcing the Kurds into independence.

    At the moment the Turkish despot is most repressive: even Kurdish initiatives outside their own borders are interpreted as a threat to Turkey.

    The West likes to act as a minority of interests all over the world. Only among the Kurds is one surprisingly quiet.

    On Thursday, the prime minister and the Iraqi military reiterated that they had no plans for a military operation in Kirkuk and were focused on recapturing the last IS foothold in Iraq, around Rawa and al-Qaim near the border with Syria.
    “We won’t use our army against our people or to launch a war against our Kurdish citizens,” Mr Abadi said in a statement, according to Reuters news agency.
    However, the BBC’s Orla Guerin saw a convoy of soldiers, federal police and Shia militiamen from the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation force moving towards Kirkuk.
    Some made victory signs from armoured personnel carriers. One said they were going to Kirkuk to crush the Kurds.
    Our correspondent says this may be just a show of force by Baghdad, but that it is a risky move. There are fears that Kirkuk could be the spark that ignites a civil war, she adds.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/144b564eaef1f9fc64218b6962782c1403f06d8c8ee85243f64edad479fb2163.jpg
    However this status can change.
    It can change due the participation of the (PMF) paramilitary units dominated by Iran-trained Shia militia within the Iraqi government army.
    It may even “invite in” the US military “help” ordered by the unpredictable Trump.

    • Rascal

      I think the Kurd deserve defending from the “Iran-trained Shia militia” (can’t we just call them Iran’s army in Iraq?) and I hope the US steps up their involvement. This is Iran’s general policy and the operational protocol of the IRCG. They are the enemy within. The Iraqi government (if there is such a thing) needs to distance themselves from these proxy.

      • Hind Abyad

        Both same IQ…reading Jihadi Julian. Haha!

  • Hind Abyad
  • Hind Abyad
  • Rascal

    Analysis Middle-East; hypocrites: Supporting one groups right to an independent state, yet denying the others.

    • Hind Abyad

      Who’s group..deniying “the others”.. you mean Palestinians?

  • Hind Abyad

    Kurdistan – What the Referendum is Hiding

    “The referendum for the independence of Kurdistan is a fool’s game.
    The United States, which secretly supports it, claims in public to oppose it.
    France and the United Kingdom are doing the same, hoping that Washington will make their old dreams come true. Not to be outdone, Russia is hinting that although
    it is against any unilateral change, it might support independence… as long as everyone accepts the independence of Crimea, which means accepting its attachment to Moscow.”

    https://astutenews.com/2017/09/28/kurdistan-what-the-referendum-is-hiding/

  • Niemals

    Talk about the brainless Hind Abyad https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/82da714c55d6a91aa258a3738dd795a944fc2284c1d6fd9e31f8e9e13e63a9b3.jpg “oh sweetie, you’ve lost it again… what have you been smoking?”

    “If you deduct from one person to entire nation then you are a Hitler sort of person.. just pointing the obvious dear :))” doron > Hind Abyad • 2 years ago….