Baghdad denies deal between Peshmerga, US-led coalition

Baghdad denies deal between Peshmerga, US-led coalition

BAGHDAD (Rahnuma) Iraq’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday denied reports that a deal had been struck between Peshmerga forces loyal to northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government and a U.S.-led coalition to “protect” Iraq’s Kirkuk province and other “disputed” parts of the country.

In a Monday statement, the Peshmerga announced that it had agreed with U.S.-led coalition officials to review its “military plans” for disputed areas of northern Iraq following a meeting in Erbil attended by Peshmerga officials and coalition representatives.

In response to the claims, however, Iraq’s Defense Ministry issued its own statement reading: “The security situation in Kirkuk — and in other disputed areas — falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government.”

“Our forces seized control of these areas [in late 2017],” it added. “[U.S.-led] coalition forces were not involved.”

The statement adds that Iraqi security forces had “developed a comprehensive plan for assuming security and enhancing stability in Kirkuk and in other parts of the country.”

It goes on to assert that Kirkuk’s civilian population held the Iraqi security forces — and their achievements — in high regard.

In recent months, the frequency of terrorist attacks — which authorities blame on the Daesh terror group — have increased significantly in “disputed” parts of Iraq, especially in oil-rich Kirkuk.

The attacks, which have included bombings and kidnappings, have led to panic in these areas, prompting hundreds of civilians to flee the region.

Peshmerga forces had held these “disputed” areas until they were expelled by Iraqi federal forces late last year following an ill-fated referendum on Kurdish regional independence.

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