Peshmerga and Iraqi forces have agreed to set up 10 military outposts in the areas between Kirkuk’s Tooz District and Diyala’s Kifri District, where militant groups are active.
The decision was taken after a meeting between the two sides on 14 July, as an operation by the Iraqi forces to clear the disputed areas from the militant groups was concluded earlier that day.
Usman Hasan Qadir, commander of 136th Brigade of Peshmerga Forces, told KirkukNow: “The meeting was done at the request of the Iraqi forces. We agreed to set up 10 outposts in the area near Qori-Chai and Karez, between the districts of Kifri and Tuz Khurmatu [Tooz]. Militant groups have been active in this area in the past few years.”
According to the agreement, those 10 outposts will be divided equally between units from both sides. But a detailed plan to eliminate the threat from militant groups is still not conveyed.
Qori-Chai and Karez lie a few kilometres from Kifri’s district centre, located in an area between where Iraqi forces and Peshmerga are stationed (a security vacuum exploited by ISIS militants). The region falls under the designated “disputed areas” by the Iraqi Constitution.
The agreement comes after Peshmerga commanders objected to the presence of Iraqi forces near Kifri, who were stationed there as part of the “Heroes of Iraq” operation.
Qadir, the Peshmerga commander, who was a participant in the meeting, said: “During the meeting the decision was made to retreat those units that were stationed there for the operation, and right after they retreated, setting up the outposts was started.”
He added: “We want to protect the area and the farmers, which is the task for both forces.”
Those areas became a hotbed for ISIS militants after the events of 16 October 2017 (when Iraqi forces took control of Kirkuk and other disputed areas after KRG held a referendum on independence of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq).
During the meeting Peshmerga commanders had requested to be allowed to return to a line near Qaratapa south of Kifri town, and the Iraqi commanders had replied that they would convey the request to their superiors.