Baghdad- Iraqi government said on Thursday an agreement on the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from liberated areas of Mosul remained “steady and unchanged”. Iraq Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office followed up with a statement on Kurdish Peshmerga forces having to pull back according to the previously struck agreement between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Abadi’s office said there was an agreement between the government and the Peshmerga that guarantees their “withdrawal to the places they held before the start of the liberation operations”.
“We point out that this agreement includes an explicit clause stating that the Peshmerga withdraw to previous stations soon after the liberation of Nineveh,” read the statement.
KRG leader Masoud Barzani had suggestively commented on an attempt for expanding KRG territory in northern Iraq to include surrounding villages and towns recaptured by Kurdish fighters from ISIS, in Nineveh, and possibly the oil-rich region of Kirkuk.
“We are in agreement with the United States on not withdrawing from the areas of Kurdistan,” Barzani said on Wednesday.
Member of the Iraqi National Assembly Sami al-Askari told Asharq Al-Awsat that Barzani is an honest man to himself—in the early moments of liberating disputed areas he had announced that Peshmerga forces will not be withdrawing.
Sunni Arabs make up an overwhelming majority of the Nineveh region surrounding Mosul, where KRG endeavors on anchoring itself a foothold. There are also other ethnic and religious communities, including Turkmen, Kurds, Yazidis, Christians, Sunnis living in the area.
The war against ISIS to recapture Mosul -the hardliners’ last stronghold in Iraq- has seen the KRG control over swathes of disputed territory in northern Iraq.
Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake Mosul on Oct.17 with Peshmerga playing a major role in its early stages but later saying operations had been completed.