Iraq-KRG tension defuses

Iraq-KRG tension defuses

Iraq-KRG tension defuses

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces are seen in a tank, flying the Kurdish flag, stationed 20 kilometers north of Kirkuk. Tension between Baghdad and Arbil eased after a meeting in Baghdad. AFP photo

Iraqi military leaders have agreed with commanders from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to defuse tension and discuss pulling their troops back from an area over which they both claim jurisdiction.

Baghdad and the KRG sent thousands of troops last week into the oil-rich territories along their contested internal border, raising the stakes in a long-running row over land and oil rights.

The meeting at the Defense Ministry in Baghdad was chaired by national security adviser Falah al-Fayadh and attended by Iraqi Gen. Faruq al-Araji, U.S. Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen and delegations from the federal Defense Ministry and a KRG official from the Peshmarga Ministry.

The two sides agreed to continue meeting “and to activate the higher coordinating committees between the [federal] armed forces and the [Kurdish] regional guard forces” known as peshmarga, a statement from military spokesman Col. Dhia al-Wakil said. They also agreed to begin “calming the situation and searching for mechanisms to withdraw the units that were mobilized after the crisis to their former locations,” the statement said. A top peshmarga official, Jabbar Yawar, said on Iraqiya state television that “we agreed that we would return to the situation as it was before, and God willing, all the forces will return to their original areas.”

Explosions in Kirkuk

A spokesman for the KRG said the Kurdish delegation would report back to the political
leadership, which would decide what steps to take next.

The Iraqi army and Kurdish troops have previously come close to confrontation only to pull back at the last moment, flexing their muscles but lacking any real appetite for a fight.

The recent establishment of the Tigris Operations Command, which covers northern Iraq, drew an angry response from Kurdish leaders who want to incorporate much of the area into their region.Meanwhile, car bombs killed four people in Kirkuk yesterday, while roadside bombs killed two more in a nearby Arab town.

One car bomb exploded in a Kurdish area of east Kirkuk near a Kurdistan Democratic Party youth club, one of the two main Kurdish parties in Iraq, killing two people and wounding seven, a security official said.

About 10 minutes later, a second car bomb exploded in another Kurdish area in the city’s northeast, killing a Kurdish security forces member and wounding four other people, the official said.

A third car bomb detonated in the north of the city killed one person and wounded five, with Kurdish security forces members among the wounded.

Also yesterday, six roadside bombs targeted Iraqi army and police in the disputed town of Tuz Khurmatu, wounding two members of the security forces.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.