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MIDEAST > Northern peshmerga, central Iraqi army face-off over border post

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The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has deployed 10,000 troops near the Rabia border crossing town between Iraq and Syria after the Iraqi central government attempted to wrestle control of the post away from the Kurds. 

The KRG peshmerga barred the national Iraqi army from accessing the border area July 27, starting a tense stand-off between the two forces. Jabbar Yawar from the KRG told Agence France-Presse July 27 that the KRG’s eighth Brigade of the peshmerga had blocked soldiers from the Iraqi army’s 10th division. 

Peshmerga near Cairo village were reinforced with 10,000 additional fighters, daily Hürriyet reported today, with more soldiers being kept as auxiliary. Three battalions from the Iraqi national army, including armored vehicles, artillery and heavy weapons, have dug in near Mahmoudiyah village. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had accused the KRG of “violating the constitution” by not yielding control of the Rabia border post to the central army. “Military and police forces are being deployed near the border crossings in order to protect Iraq from any possible harm that could come from Syria,” Maliki said. “Protecting the sovereignty of the country and its borders is exclusive to the central government, not to regional or provincial governments,” he said, adding that they were targeting to gain control in the Kurdish region. 

Claims have been made that the United States was attempting to broker a deal between the two sides to end the crisis.

A spat between the central government in Baghdad and the regional government in Arbil had begun after Arbil struck oil exporting deals with neighboring countries without consulting with the central government in Baghdad.

July/29/2012

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