Coalition soldiers conduct pre-flight inspections of an Apache helicopter in Erbil in July. Photo: Capt. Stephen James/US Army
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The US-led anti-ISIS coalition has not discussed with the Iraqi government the possibility of moving their forces from certain locations, contrary to a statement from the Iraqi prime minister. They are, however, making preparations in case conflict does occur as tensions ratchet up following Kurdistan’s vote for independence.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had been told by the Coalition that it would be willing to remove its forces
from any location in Iraq at the request of Baghdad.
“They have informed us that ‘if you want us to leave this or that area, we will leave,’” Abadi said.
Coalition forces are present in Iraq at the consent of the central government and are stationed in several locations throughout the country, including in the Kurdistan Region where they provide assistance and training to the Peshmerga.
Asked to confirm that they would be prepared to leave the Kurdistan Region if Baghdad requests it, the Coalition media office replied that “there have been no discussions” with the government of Iraq, “but Coalition is working to make sure that forces on the ground are not in harm’s way if conflict occurs.”
The Coalition added that the Kurdistan referendum “has had no effect on the close coordination and cooperation between our partner forces, as is evidenced by our recent success in liberating Hawijah from ISIS control.”
Peshmerga officials declined to comment on the matter.
On Thursday morning, Peshmerga briefly blocked the main roads
from Duhok and Erbil provinces to Mosul after security services warned that Iraqi and Shiite forces were preparing for an attack on Kurdistan in the disputed areas.
Abadi has said they will not fight the Kurds
, but a Hashd al-Shaabi commander said his forces are on alert under orders from Abadi.