Arabs, Turkmens in Kirkuk reject joint forces between Peshmerga, Iraqi army

Arabs and Turkmens hold a press conference in Kirkuk, October 31, 2021.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Arabs and Turkmens in Kirkuk on Sunday rejected the formation of joint forces between Peshmerga and Iraqi military for the disputed areas.

“Commander-in-chief of the armed forces has ordered to join one of the brigades of the Peshmerga forces into the Iraqi military, while the Iraqi Council of Representatives was dissolved and the government has become a transitional government,” a representative for the Arabs and Turkmens said in a press conference.

In an official document signed by Kadhimi on October 20, the premier authorized the registration of the 20th Brigade of the Peshmerga forces within the structure of the Iraqi defense ministry so as to form joint forces.

The attempt to form joint forces came after Islamic State (ISIS) militants increased attacks against civilians and security forces in the disputed territories, claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil.

“Both the Arab and Turkmen components in Kirkuk city reject government’s insistence to involve Kirkuk and the disputed territories in political agreements to disrupt security and to form joint forces,” the representative said.

The Iraqi military and the Kurdish forces have been working to form two joint brigades to protect the disputed territories from ISIS attacks.

Kurdish officials have repeatedly warned that ISIS militants are using a “security vacuum” between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to carry out attacks in the disputed territories.

To fill the gaps, the Iraqi military and Peshmerga forces established four joint operation rooms in Khanaqin, Makhmour, Kirkuk and Mosul to exchange information and launch joint operations against the militants.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December 2017 but the militants have regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range which extends into the northern provinces – an area described by officials as a “triangle of death”.

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