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 Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi troops come to a standoff near Syrian border

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Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi troops come to a standoff near Syrian border  28.7.2012 







July 28, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — To ease Friday’s standoff between the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces near the Syrian border, the chief of staff of the ministry of Peshmerga said that American officials are talking to Iraqi and Kurdish authorities.

“The Iraqi forces have not yet withdrawn from the Fishkkapur region,” Anwar Hajji Osman, ministry of Peshmerga’s chief of staff told Rudaw. “But the Americans are in dialogue with Kurdish and Iraqi leaders to solve the problem.”

On Friday the ministry of Peshmerga said that the Iraqi government had sent troops to the border strip between Syria and the Kurdistan Region and that 3,000 Peshmerga fighters stationed in the area had stopped their advance.

There was serious concern about armed clashes between both sides.

“Because of the tense situation in Syria and the border regions in particular, the Iraqi government has put its armed forces on alert from Muwel region all the way down to Ramadi,” said Jabbar Yawar, the spokesperson for the ministry of Peshmerga. “But no conflict has occurred so far and we have asked all sides to control themselves.”

Kurdish leaders believe Iraqi troops were sent to the region to secure Syria’s eastern border for the regime of Bashar Assad. The deployment of forces was intended to seize control of Fishkhapur border crossing in Zakho district that is Kurdistan Region’s only border with Syria.

“The Iraqi forces moved to the area with prearranged plans and they have come in full military capacity in order to occupy the border region,” Hajji Osman said.

Hajji Osman said that the 3rd Peshmerga division capable of repelling any attack is deployed to the region supported by artillery.

Following the liberation of most Kurdish cities in Syria and the announcement by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani last week that Syrian Kurdish soldiers have been trained in the Kurdistan Region for self-defense,www.ekurd.net Iraqi authorities led by Prime Minister Nuri Maliki vowed to protect Iraq’s border with Syria and they demanded investigation into the report.

Friday’s deployment of Iraqi troops came as part of an Iraqi plan to ensure unwanted armed elements do not infiltrate Iraq from Syria. But Hajji Osman said, “As Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces we will not allow the events of 2008 in Saadiya and Jalawla be repeated here and we ask the Iraqi troops to withdraw or they will be responsible for any consequences.”

In 2008, the Iraqi army marched into Jalawla and Saadiya areas in northern Diyala province in what they called an operation “to drive out terrorist groups” and they have stayed in the area ever since.

The border region near Syria falls within disputed territories claimed by Kurds and the Iraqi government and the 2005 constitution stipulates a solution through Article 140.

The Peshmerga are Kurdistan Region’s official armed forces. Kurdish political parties, mainly the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] independently had their own Peshmerga forces until they recently integrated under the ministry of Peshmerga.

According to Yawar, Iraqi border guards have patrolled the 27-kilometer border strip between Syria and the Kurdistan Region since 2003 and an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad stipulates that no other forces are allowed in the area.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, rudaw.net 

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