Kurdish Forces Stop Iraqi Army Advance Near Syrian Border

The area has been under Kurdish control since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – On the second day of a standoff between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi troops near the Syrian border, a senior Peshmerga commander in the area said, “we will not allow the Iraqi Army to advance one more step.”

On Friday, Iraqi Army units were dispatched to Rabia and Zumar northwest of Nineveh province to control the border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

The area has been under Kurdish control since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

Speaking to Rudaw, Colonel Issa Zewayi, intelligence chief of the 8th battalion of Peshmerga forces said that around 7,000 Iraqi troops have been sent to the area armed with heavy weaponry.

Zewawyi said the Iraqi forces intended to cross into territories controlled by the Kurdish Peshmarga units.

“But the Peshmerga forces are deployed along an area of 60 kilometers from Cairo village to Zumar district and will not allow the Iraqi Army to advance one more step toward Kurdish areas,” said Zewayi.

According to Zewawyi, Peshmarga and Iraqi troops are deployed less than one kilometer from each other near Cairo village and “clashes are possible at any moment.”

He said the Kurdish units in the area are well armed and ready for any confrontation.

Zewayi added that the commander of the 38th battalion of the Iraqi Army had asked the Kurdish Peshmerga to allow his units to advance, but their request was rejected.

Anwar Haji Osman, Kurdistan Region’s deputy minister of Peshmarga said the Iraqi troops have been sent to control the border areas between Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria.

Osman told Rudaw on Friday that an artillery unit has been dispatched to reinforce the Peshmerga forces in the area.

On saturaday, the office of Iraqi prime minister and Commander in Chief Nuri al-Maliki issued a statement saying the Kurdish Peshmerga forces have acted “against the constitution”.

The statement said the situation was on the verge of a military confrontation.

The statement also warned that the deployment of the Peshmerga forces in certain areas of Nineveh province “is a dangerous phenomenon and will lead to bad outcomes.”

The prime minister’s statement called on the Kurdish authorities to “respect order and law” and calling the presence of Peshmerga troops outside the three provinces of Kurdistan Region – Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Dohuk—“a clear violation of the law and security measures.”

The office of Kurdish Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani also released a statement on Saturday saying, “we have problems with the mentality that believes in using weapons and force” in a clear reference to Baghdad’s statement and deployment of Iraqi troops in areas controlled by Kurdish forces since 2003.

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