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Iraq: Kurdish Peshmerga not involved in Anbar fighting | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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File photo of a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier holding a Kurdistan flag from August 6, 2012. (REUTERS/Azad Lashkari/Files)

An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga soldier points to his badge of the Kurdistan Region's flag in September 2013. (AFP)

An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga soldier points to his badge of the Kurdistan Region’s flag in September 2013. (AFP)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat— A senior Kurdish Peshmerga official confirmed on Saturday that Iraqi Kurdistan’s security force, known as the Peshmerga, had not been invited to take part in the security operation against Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters in Iraq’s western Anbar governorate.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Secretary-General of the Peshmerga Ministry, Lieutenant-General Jabbar Yawar, said: “Despite being part of Iraq’s defense forces, the Peshmerga has not received any official request to deploy our forces in Anbar.”

Yawar denied media reports that the Peshmerga are taking part in the battle to dispel Al-Qaeda forces in Anbar, but confirmed that they stand ready to be deployed if needed.

He said: “A misunderstanding appears to have occurred in the media. In reality, there are forces taking part in the military operations [in Anbar] that are under the command of Fadel Berwari, a Kurdish officer, but he commands the counter-terror Golden Brigade.”

“No Peshmerga forces have been mobilized anywhere beyond the Kurdistan Region’s borders and the disputed areas that are jointly run by the Iraqi military and police and the Pehmerga forces,” he added.

His comments come as Iraqi troops seek to retake Anbar province from fighters affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Both Fallujah and Ramadi were taken over by the jihadists on Friday after Iraqi troops withdrew from the area.

Embattled Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki subsequently took the decision to redeploy the Iraqi Army to regain control of the governorate, with fighting raging in Anbar since Wednesday.

At least eight people were killed and 30 wounded in Fallujah as government forces shelled rebel positions overnight on Friday.

There have been fears that the fighting in Anbar could spread into the neighboring Kurdistan Region, with Erbil deploying a Peshmerga brigade to southern Erbil earlier this week “to protect the civilian population from radical groups,” according to Deputy Peshmerga Secretary-General Anwar Haji.