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Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs: Dijila Operations Command retreats from Kirkuk

THU, 12 JUN 2014 15:40 | KRG Cabinet

Peshmerga forces

Erbil, Kurdistan (KRG.org) – Lieutenant General Jabbar Yawar, Secretary-General of the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and the Spokesperson of the Region’s armed forces, stated that Peshmerga forces now control Kirkuk city after the Dijila Operations Command retreated from its position. He said, “Peshmerga forces are in control of the majority of the Kurdistan Region outside of KRG administration.”

The Dijila Operations Command is part of the Iraqi Army under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and was deployed in 2012 in and around disputed territories. It has been a source of tension between Erbil and Baghdad since its establishment.

In a statement to KRG.org, Jabbar Yawar pointed out that the KRG has in the past issued warnings that such events would occur in Mosul and parts of Iraq, particularly given the surge of terrorist activities in these areas. He said, “Especially in Ninewa, Salahaddin and Anbar governorates, the Iraqi security agencies and ministries have been incapable and soldiers and employees were only interested in collecting their salaries.” He added that the collapse of these forces after their first engagement in battle had been predicted, but “Baghdad did not heed the KRG’s warnings and now, unfortunately, our predictions have come to pass.”

The Lieutenant General explained that during a number of military meetings between KRG and federal government delegations, the KRG proposed that “several military bases be built in Anbar, Salahaddin and Mosul – particularly at the desert border areas – but Baghdad incorrectly interpreted our proposals as politically motivated and not in the public’s interest.”

Yawar recalled that at the end of 2012, Peshmerga forces drew a line designed to protect the Kurdistan Region, including the areas of “Naftkhana, Khanaqin, Jalawla, Saadiya, Qaratapa, south and west of Tuz Khurmatu, and south and west of Kirkuk. This is in addition to the areas of Dibagah, Makhmour and as far as Fishkhabour. This line, which is 1050 kilometres in length, has been protected by the Kurdistan Region’s 70th and 80th forces, rapid-response units, Asayish, and Zeravani. Over the past several days, as the Iraqi Army has abandoned its posts, including joint-force positions, Peshmerga reinforcements have been dispatched to fill their places.”

Yawar also revealed that Peshmerga are present in “Gwer and the areas surrounding Kirkuk city, including Taza Khurmatu and areas close to Hawija and Dibs.” To make these areas more secure, he reiterated that the Kurdistan Region remains open for all people fleeing their homes because of the threat of terror. “The Peshmerga will help them in every way that they can. In the meantime, security measures taken by Peshmerga forces will not cause conflict or disruption for citizens living in these areas.”

The Lieutenant General explained that no confrontation has taken place between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi Army. He said, “Peshmerga forces have helped Iraqi soldiers and military leaders when they abandoned their positions. We helped them to reach Baghdad via the Kurdistan Region, particularly three Iraqi military leaders: General Ali Ghaidan, General Abood Qambar, and Lieutenant-General Muhsin Mahmud, as well as the two pilots who abandoned their planes. They were all sent back to Baghdad via Erbil International Airport.”

Jabar Yawar also clarified that Peshmerga forces quickly reached the Rabia border crossing in order to establish military positions to secure the border area.

He emphasized that “no Dijila Operations Command soldiers are present in the city of Kirkuk, and all the units of the Iraqi Army’s 12th Division have retreated from the city. Asayish forces and Zeravani now control Kirkuk city and the surrounding areas.”

Yawar pointed out, “Peshmerga forces have thus far not received orders from the President of the Kurdistan Region to move toward the three governorates which are under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).” He added, “There is no need for Peshmerga forces to move into these areas. Iraqi Army forces are no longer present there, and the situation in these areas is highly unstable, as they are under ISIS control.”

KRG Spokesperson Minister Safeen Dizayee described the posture of KRG Peshmerga forces. He said, “We are fully committed to the defence of territory administered by the KRG as well as areas of the Kurdistan Region outside of KRG administration.” He added, “The KRG is currently a safe haven for approximately 250,000 Syrian refugees as well as hundreds of thousands of internally-displaced people fleeing the violence in Mosul and elsewhere. We are doing our best to cope with this humanitarian emergency.”