Kurds in Iraq demand the end of Iraqi military build up near Kurdistan region

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg   Reuters  


The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) on Monday warned that a continued build-up of Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) was taking place around the areas of the Kurdistan Region.

They also called for an immediate withdrawal from all territories occupied by the Iraqi Government.  

“In the last 48 hours, Iraq has continued to deploy tanks and artillery, as well as American equipment, including Humvees and Armored Personnel Carriers.” The statement by the KRSC said.

 The KRSC connected the dots between the military build-up and the recent attacks that occurred in Kirkuk and Altun Kupri. They argue that both are the consequence of the almost total impunity that Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilization forces have in their assault of Kurdistan and the disputed territories.

While the Iraqi Kurdish leadership have said they are ready for unconditional talks to solve the problems between the Kurdistan region and Baghdad -- which worsened after the independence referendum held on the 25th of September --  the KRSC believes that the military buildup across the Kurdistan Region is directly related to the unprovoked attacks that occurred recently by PMF forces in Kirkuk and Altun Kupri.

 “As the political leadership of the Kurdistan Region has said time and again, Iraq must commit to unconditional talks to settle political disputes through peaceful means,” the KRSC emphasized in their public statement to the global community.

The attacks on Kurdish Regions
On 20 October, Iraqi forces launched a large-scale attack on Kurdish positions on two fronts in Altun Kupri.

“Preliminary reports indicate Peshmerga forces destroyed 10 US Humvees and two tanks, including an M1 Abrams tank. These weapons were given to Iraq for the war on Islamic State, and are now used by Iraq's Army and PMF against the people of Kurdistan,” the KRSC said.

The attack followed a large-scale offensive in Kirkuk on October 16 in which many disputed territories were taken. As a result of the Iraqi attacks, at least 100,000 individuals are now displaced in Erbil and Slemani, seeking food and shelter.

“PMF have damaged, looted and burnt hundreds of Kurdish and Turkmen properties in Kirkuk, Tuz Khormatu and Khanaqin in a campaign terrorizing local populations. In Khanaqin, PMF fired on peaceful demonstrators calling for their exit from Kurdish areas, killing and injuring many,” the KRSC said.

Moreover, the Kurdish intelligence service says several Iranian-backed proxies have taken part in operations against Peshmerga such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq; Badr Corp; Kata'ib Hezbollah; Abbas Division; Ali Akbar Brigades; Khorasan Companies, and Imam Ali Battalions.

“The deafening silence from the international community has emboldened Iraq and neighboring countries to attack Kurdistan. The army ostensibly created to defend the people is used today to attack the people of Kurdistan. Iraq's continued attacks have confirmed Kurds' legitimate fears about our future in this country. The international community must now intervene and condemn Iraq's aggressive military attacks,” the KRSC said.