Iraqi forces drive through an oil field as they head towards the city of Kirkuk on October 16, 2017. Photo: AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Peshmerga General Command has said in a statement that the attack on Kirkuk by the Iranian Quds-backed Iraqi forces and the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi is “a flagrant declaration of war against the nation of Kurdistan,” and warned that the government of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi should pay a “heavy price” for initiating the conflict.
It said that the military incursion into the Peshmerga controlled areas in the oil-province of Kirkuk is in retaliation against the right of the people to vote on their fate, a reference to the Kurdish independence vote held last month that saw 92.7 percent of the people voting to leave Iraq.
The Peshmerga command also accused some of the Kurdish commanders of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) whom it said were complicit when the Iraqi forces made rapid advances against the positions of Kurdish security forces, including an oil field and key infrastructure in the province. The PUK has denied the accusations.
It continued to say that the Iraqi forces, including the Hashd, used American weapons they received for the war against ISIS.
Following is the full text of the statement published by the Peshmerga General Command on Monday afternoon:
Beloved citizens of Kurdistan
Public opinion inside and outside Kurdistan
The Hashd al-Shaabi forces affiliated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force led by Eqbalpur, in cooperation with Iraqi forces started a broad attack on Kirkuk and its surrounding areas this morning, October 16, 2017. This attack is a flagrant declaration of war against the nation of Kurdistan.
This attack, waged by the Iraqi government, Hashd al-Shaabi and forces associated with the Headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, is in retaliation against the people of Kurdistan who have asked for freedom. It is revenge against the honorable people of Kirkuk who have shown bravery.
Unfortunately, some officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) helped this plot against the Kurdistan nation and committed a great and historic treason against Kurdistan and the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Kurdistan under the PUK flag. These officials have left some sensitive places for the Hashd forces and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards without fighting and have abandoned Mr. Kosrat [Rasul] alone.
We declare this to every party that this attack by the Hashd and Iraqi forces was launched by American weapons, armored vehicles, tanks and other coalition weapons. These American weapons have been given to the Iraqi army and Hashd under the name of the war on ISIS. This was done at a time when the Peshmerga, also in the fight against ISIS, were not given necessary weapons to defend themselves against the terrorists.
We hereby reassure the people of Kurdistan that Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces is defending bravely with high morale on every front despite having some impurity on the part of some officials and plots by the Iraqi government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. We also reiterate that it is impossible for the will of the people of Kurdistan to be broken by these plots and also impossible for us to allow the enemies of the people of Kurdistan to succeed.
We call upon all the real Peshmerga of the country and the resilient and enemy-defeating people to do all they can to resist and defeat the attackers. The first person responsible for selling this war to the people of Kurdistan is Abadi’s government that should pay a heavy price for this unfairness.
General Command of Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Forces