Peshmerga to stay out of disputed areas: Kurd region PM

Reports that Peshmerga fighters would soon return to disputed parts of Iraq are ‘untrue’, Nechirvan Barzani says

By Idris Okuducu

ERBIL, Iraq (AA) - The head of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has refuted reports that Peshmerga fighters would be sent back to Kirkuk and other areas “disputed” between Baghdad and Erbil.

Speaking in Erbil on Tuesday, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani described recent reports to this effect as “untrue”, saying the issue had not come up for discussion between the KRG, Washington and Iraq’s central government.

Answering questions about the resumption of international flights between Turkey and Sulaymaniyah (the Kurdish region’s second largest city), Barzani said: “We are still discussing the resumption of flights [to Sulaymaniyah] with Ankara. We hope the talks will yield positive results.”

Late last year, Iraqi federal forces moved into areas “disputed” between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG, including Kirkuk.

These deployments were accompanied by the concomitant withdrawal from these areas by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters loyal to the KRG.

The moves came shortly after the KRG held an illegitimate referendum on regional independence, to which Baghdad responded by banning international flights into and out of the Kurdish region.

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