Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Baghdad prepares for Kirkuk attack, Kurdish Pres. Aide

Baghdad prepares for Kirkuk attack, Kurdish Pres. Aide

Some local and worldwide news outlets had earlier reported that the Iraqi army had launched fresh operations in southern Kirkuk aimed at capturing areas now held by forces loyal to the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

The central government of Baghdad lost control of the area in June 2014 after the occupation of Daesh, an acronym in Arabic for an Islamic state, and then Iraqi Kurdish forces (Peshmerga) evicted the terrorists and resumed it.

Meanwhile, a Justice Ministry official from northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), denounced the Iraqi court's warrants as "politically motivated", stressing that Baghdad's judicial system has no jurisdiction in Kurdistan, which is allegedly ruled by its own legal body. Baghdad has demanded the Kurds return to the city to federal authorities, a dispute that has escalated since the Kurds voted for independence in a non-binding referendum last month.

Hatay Commando troops were shipped to the border zone
The development came after Turkey said it was sending in troops to enforce a de-escalation zone in Idlib. Reconnaissance units have been operating in the area since last Sunday.

Earlier, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he would never use military force against Iraqi Kurdistan; The goal is, he said, to free the country from the refugee extremists in the north of the country. Iraqi security forces moved into some of the positions evacuated in an orderly manner, without any clashes, they said.

According to results announced by the KRG, nearly 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.

Last month's illegitimate poll on regional independence had faced strong opposition from most regional and global actors (including the U.S., Turkey, and Iran), who warned that the vote would distract from Iraq's fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

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