Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga 'agree on ceasefire'

Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga 'agree on ceasefire'
2 min read
27 October, 2017
Iraq's armed forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters reached an agreement on Friday to halt fighting in northern Iraq, the US-led anti-IS coalition said.
Iraqi forces and allied Hashd al-Shaabi militias last week took control of Kirkuk. [Getty]
Update: The US-led coalition spokesperson has retracted his ceasefire announcement

Iraq's armed forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters reached an agreement on Friday to halt fighting in northern Iraq, the US-led anti-IS coalition said.

Iraqi forces and allied Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces) militias last week took control of the northern Kirkuk province and its lucrative oil fields after a fast-paced operation which saw Kurdish forces retreat with little resistance.

The operation was launched in retaliation to last month's independence referendum on 25 September, which Kurdish leaders had billed as an opening bid in negotiations with Baghdad over expanded autonomy.

Instead, Iraqi federal forces responded by retaking Kirkuk and other disputed areas outside the Kurds' autonomous region.

Most Kurdish forces have withdrawn without a fight, but scattered clashes have broken out, pitting two close US allies against each other.

Iraqi forces on Thursday mounted a new assault on Kurdish fighters in the strategic Zummar area of Nineveh province, triggering heavy artillery exchanges in the latest flare-up of violence.

After claiming the capture of several villages, Baghdad laid down a tight deadline to the Kurds to withdraw from the area around the Fishkhabur border post "within several hours", a government source told AFP.

A spokesman for the US coalition in Baghdad told Reuters that Friday's ceasefire agreement covers fighting on all fronts.

The most violent clashes took place in the northwestern corner of Iraq where Peshmerga forces are defending land crossings to Turkey and Syria and an oil hub that controls KRG crude exports.