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Abadi’s Clarifications Fail to Eliminate Kurdish Concerns | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter pauses during an operation to take the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar/Nov. 2015. AP

Baghdad, Irbil — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stressed on Thursday that his government would not wage a war against the Kurds, but his comments failed to eliminate worries among the Kurdistan Region residents of a possible movement of the federal forces towards the disputed areas between Baghdad and Irbil.

Early on Thursday, the Peshmerga forces cut off with sand barriers the two main roads connecting Irbil and Dohuk with Mosul. However, these forces reopened the roads at a later time on the same day.

Media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul Saeed Mamouzini told Asharq Al-Awsat that closing and reopening the two roads were due to the unusual moves conducted by the Popular Mobilization forces currently located in east Mosul, and at the division line with the Peshmerga forces.

Mamouzini said: “The Peshmerga had to cut off the roads for a couple of hours for security measures,” adding that armed members with foreign agendas were currently present among the Mobilization forces, who are trying to create problems and incite a strife.

The latest developments came after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) accused on Wednesday the Iraqi government forces for preparing a major military attack on Kurdish forces in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and other parts of northern Iraq.

A source close to the Baghdad cabinet told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday the details of what happened on Wednesday following the claims.

He said contacts were launched between high-ranking officials from the government in Baghdad to decrease the level of tension.

“Kurdish parties called President Fouad Massoum to inform him about the menacing position,” the sources said, adding that the president then called the cabinet presidency, which issued a statement to denounce the accusations.

“The government calls on the Kurds to hand over tens of ISIS militants,” the source said.

“The Kurds do not mind, but they are waiting to investigate the fate of around 60 Peshmerga members kidnaped by the terrorist group and whose fates were still unclear,” the source added.

He said that the Kurds fear that the government’s requests to receive the ISIS militants are simply a pretext for an operation to control the oil fields of Kirkuk and other parts of Iraq.