Last night the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have deployed its Peshmerga forces to the province of Kirkuk escalating military tensions with the Iraqi Federal Government and aiming to take back the government-held city of Kirkuk.
The October 15 video shows a Peshmerga convoy en route to Kirkuk:
“The brave Peshmerga are fully prepared…just as we defeated ISIS, the Hashd al-Shaabi and those who support them, will be null, and come under the feet of Kurdistan,” Rudaw, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) affiliated outlet, quoted the commander of the western front of Kirkuk as saying.
“As for the liberation of Kirkuk and the entire Kurdistan, it is coming and we will be victorious,” Kamal Kirkuki added.
However, he didn’t provide any details when the “liberation” should take place.
According to Rudaw, Kirkuki aruged that the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units, a state-sponsored coalition of militias, had withdrawn from the area because of uprising of the Kurdish people in Khanaqin and other aras.
— Aram (@AramKrdstn) 18 October 2017
“This proves the result of the referendum, for independence of Kurdistan, that they oppose invasion and being slaves,” he said. “They want freedom and independence.”
Unfortunately, Rudaw forgot to added that the PMU withdrew from Kirkuk and Khanaqin under because Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the PMU to do so. This does not mean that units of the Iraqi Army, the Federal Police or the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service are set to withdraw from the contested areas.
However, the situation in Khanaqin itself remains unclear. Pro-KRG sources argued that the PMU “fled” the town because people “upraised” against them.
At the same time, “rumors” spreading by pro-KRG activists about the US-led coalition airstrikes against a PMU in the K1 Airbase and a Peshmerga ultimatum to Iraqi forces also appeared to be untrue.
— Nidalgazaui (@Nidalgazaui) 18 October 2017
Some firefights between pro-KRG fighters and government forces were reported in the northern part of Kirkuk last night. The city remains in the hands of the federal government and no notable “liberation” effort by the Peshmerga is observed.
The Mosul Dam also remained under the control of the Iraqi Army despite the claims of pro-KRG sources that Iraqi troops had fled from the area.
Summing up the available facts, the KRG and media outlets loyal to KRG President Massoud Barzani used the Iraqi prime minister’s decision to withdraw PMU forces from some contensted areas to launch a large-scale propaganda campaign against the federal government.