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Peshmerga and Iraqi force coordination rooms to 'enhance stability in Kirkuk': army chief
by Lawk Ghafuri for Rudaw.net
08-07-2020 - ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The establishment of three rooms for joint coordination between Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga will bring safety back to Kirkuk province, a top Iraqi Army official said on Tuesday.
“The coordination room with the Peshmerga forces will enhance stability in Kirkuk province," Iraqi Army Chief of Staff Lie. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah said in an interview.
The comment follows a Monday visit to Kirkuk by a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, where members met Iraqi defense and interior ministry officials and an Iraqi federal police team, according to spokesperson to the army's commander-in-chief Yehia Rasool.
Rasool announced that same day that Iraqi force-Peshmerga coordination rooms would be established in Kirkuk, Diyala and Nineveh provinces - territories disputed by Erbil and Baghdad. Contention over the areas has led to a security vacuum conducive to a resurgence of the Islamic State (ISIS). 
“The visit to the Federal Police headquarters in Kirkuk province was successful,” Yarallah told state media. “The relationship between the Federal Police and the Peshmerga forces and the means to enhance the security of Kirkuk province were discussed.”
However, Rasool stressed that Peshmerga forces would not be redeployed to Kirkuk, from where they were removed by Iraqi security forces in October 2017.
Nasr al-Shimari, spokesperson and deputy secretary general for the Iran-backed Harakat al-Nujaba militia, called any move to redeploy the Peshmerga to the province as “unconstitutional”.
“The return of Peshmerga to Kirkuk province is a degrading step to all the blood that have been spilled by the Iraqi forces to return control of the state over the Iraqi province [Kirkuk],” Shimari tweeted on Tuesday.
ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017. However, remnants of the group continue to operate in the disputed territories, returning to earlier insurgency tactics including ambushes, kidnappings and targeted killings.
Operations to entirely clear their presence from the area have failed, and military bodies worldwide have warned the group is continuing to resurge.
Several Kakai villagers were killed in an ISIS attack in Khanaqin, Diyala province in mid-June, prompting Kurdish leaders to renew calls for joint security coordination in the disputed territories.
Jabar Yawar, Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, previously warned that the ISIS resurgence has been underway for some time.
“According to our data, the group increased its activities in 2018 and 2019, especially in Kurdistani areas outside of the Kurdistan Region administration, including Diyala, Hamrin, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Qarachogh. In Qarachogh, they even established bases,” Yawar told Rudaw in April.
//www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/07072020


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