ERBIL — Thousands of heavily-equipped Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been deployed in Kirkuk to defend the province against any possible military offensive by the Baghdad-backed Shi’ite militias of Hashd al-Shaabi, a Kurdish official said.
“Thousands of heavily armed Peshmerga units are now completely in their positions around Kirkuk.Their order is to defend at any cost,” said Hemin Hawrami, a senior assistant to President Masoud Barzani.
He called on the international community to intervene and stop the escalation of the situation as the Shi’ite militias are preparing a military assault to takeover Kirkuk and push back the Peshmerga forces from their positions.
“No escalation from our side. Just defend and roll them back if they attack,” he emphasised in a tweet.
“We are peaceful people and have been victims of history and oppression. We never attacked any one, always defended our people and our land. For protecting Kirkuk, every single Kurd is a Peshmerga.”
“Do not test our will,” Hawrami added.