Iraq orders suspension of fighting against Kurdish forces | News | DW | 27.10.2017
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Iraq orders suspension of fighting against Kurdish forces

Baghdad has been fighting Kurdish forces in northern Iraq since a disputed independence referendum on September 25. Operations have been halted after the US incorrectly said both sides had agreed to a ceasefire.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday ordered Iraqi forces to suspend military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq for 24 hours.

According to al-Abadi, the pause will allow representatives from both sides "to work on deploying federal forces in all of the disputed zones," a reference to areas of northern Iraq both sides have claimed.

The order came after a spokesman for the US-led coalition against the "Islamic State" in Iraq had incorrectly announced that Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) had agreed to a ceasefire.

Colonel Ryan Dillon later corrected the mistake, but said that both sides are still conducting talks over a ceasefire.

Read more: Iraqi forces press last IS stronghold, attack Kurds

Baghdad against Kurdistan

Iraqi forces began operations against Kurdish forces on October 16 to retake control of the oil-rich Kirkuk province as part of a broader effort of reinstituting Baghdad's control over non-Kurdish territories in northern Iraq.

The KRG had included Kirkuk in a disputed independence referendum on September 25, in which 93 percent of voters opted for secession from Baghdad.

But Baghdad, which had controlled Kirkuk until "Islamic State" (IS) forces conquered it in 2014, disputed the referendum result and entered Kirkuk after the KRG refused to withdraw its forces from the region.

Read more: Iraqi forces press last IS stronghold, attack Kurds

Retaking northern Iraq

Since fighting against KRG began, the Iraqi army has taken control of more than 14,000 square kilometers (more than 5,400 miles) of Kurdish territory, including much of Kirkuk province.

In an effort to defuse tensions, the KRG offered to "freeze" the results of the independence referendum on Wednesday.

But both sides have clashed since then, with fighting reportedly taking place on Thursday near the northern city of Mosul.

Meanwhile, Iraq has also been fighting the last IS fighters in the west of the country. On Thursday, troops started operations to retake the western towns of al-Qaim and Rawa in Anbar province from the jihadi militants.

amp/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

 

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