The tensions between Baghdad and Erbil have escalated after an independence referendum had been held in the Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as in disputed areas.
The Iraqi army’s press service has refuted claims about clashes with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces near the northwestern town of Rabia near the Syrian border.
“The reports about clashes between Hashd Shaabi units and the Peshmerga forces near the village of Mahmoudiya of the Rabia district do not correspond with reality,” the press service said in a statement quoted by the Iraqi NRT broadcaster.
Hemin Hawrami, a senior assistant to Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani stated earlier in the day, “This morning in Mahmudia near Rabiaa, PMF attacked peshemrge [Peshmerga] forces. Peshemrge repelled the attack and pushed PMF back in to Rabiaa.”
Later in the day, the Kurdish official accused the Iraqi forces of furher boosting military buildup along the line of contact with Iraqi Kurdistan and vowed that the region would mobilize all its resources for defense in case of an attack. Baghdad hasn’t commented on the claims so far.
The statements came just a day after Erbil had demanded an “immediate” withdrawal of Iraqi troops from the Kurdistan region’s territory.
Following the independence referendum strongly criticized by Baghdad and many regional countries, the Iraqi government launched a military operation aiming to gain control over disputed territories, including those of Kirkuk, an oil-rich region, which followed the Iraqi Kurdistan’s decision to strive for separation.
The operation continued with Iraqi forces advancing toward the Syrian border in and the area of the Mosul Dam, according to information provided by the Kurdish Peshmerga Ministry.