A member of the Iraqi forces in the outskirts of the oil-rich Kirkuk. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq’s federal police will replace the Iraqi Army in providing the security of Kirkuk, and have already taken over the security of Tuz Khurmatu after the redeployment of the Iraqi Army towards western Mosul.
“The security detail of Kirkuk and Khurmatu will be taken from the Iraqi Army and Hashd and be given to the Iraqi Federal Police,” Azad Jabari, head of the security committee in Kirkuk's provincial council and a PUK member, told Rudaw on Wednesday.
Two divisions of the federal police will handle the security of both Tuz Khurmatu and Kirkuk. The federal police are under the authority of the Ministry of Interior.
Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries took control of the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by Erbil and Baghdad from Kurdish Peshmerga in October 2017.
Tens of thousands of Kurds were displaced. Tuz saw an ensuing wave of looting, pillaging and plundering. Kurdish houses were burnt, confiscated, or looted.
Amnesty International and a Rudaw video report in late-November 2017 confirmed the damage. The Iraqi parliament ordered the formation of a multi-ethnic investigative committee.
A division of Iraq’s Rapid Response Forces was dispatched to Khurmatu this week amid fears that they were there to control areas outside of the city since they brought heavy weapons.
“One division has moved into Khurmatu, and the second division is yet to arrive into Kirkuk,” Jabari added.
The Iraqi Army units will move to secure Iraqi borders.
“The decision includes the 20th Division and the entire Iraqi Army in Kirkuk, and the decision stipulates that the army retreat from cities and head to the borders,” Brig. Gen. Sherzad Aziz Kafroshy of the army’s 20th Division told Kirkuk Now.
The KRG has called for the situation of the two towns be normalized, with the ruling KDP repeatedly saying that areas where the October incursion took were “sold out and occupied.”
The Kurdistan Regional Government believes the disputed areas should be resolved through yet-to-be implemented Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, and in the meantime has requested for joint administration between Erbil and Baghdad without the presence of Hashd in these areas.