KIRKUK — Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, who also serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Kurdish forces, has ordered Peshmerga to not initiate a clash, but defend Kirkuk to the last man if attacked.
Since midnight Sunday, Baghdad-backed Shi’ite Arab militias of Hashd al-Shaabi have launched major offensive against the Peshmerga positions around Kirkuk, hoping to takeover oilfields and military bases.
Mohammed Haji Mahmoud, a senior Peshmerga commander, told BasNews from the city that the evacuation of Peshmerga from some areas by a particular faction within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was “unexpected”.
He explained that the Peshmerga Command is now reorganising its defence lines around Kirkuk in order to fortify the frontline against Baghdad’s offensives.
Mahmoud also said that Erbil has notified the international community and diplomatic missions in the region about the provoking actions by the Iraqi government, and holds Baghdad accountable for the growing tensions.