Iraqi Army vehicles pass through Kurdish Peshmerga forces on their way to the Makhmour front in 2016. File photo: Farzin Hassan/Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The borders between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces will be as they were the day before the Mosul operation began, the Peshmerga ministry said in a statement.
“According to an agreement signed for the Mosul liberation operation between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi federal government under the monitoring of the Coalition, it had been decided that the borderlines between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army remain as they were on the day before the Mosul liberation operation started,” read the statement from Peshmerga Ministry spokesperson Halgurd Hikmat.
“Now both sides will be committed to the agreement and in the coming days, the borderlines will be reorganized as per the agreement,” said Hikmat.
The Mosul operation was launched one year ago, October 17, 2016. In a historic move, Kurdish and Iraqi forces fought side-by-side to liberate the Iraqi city from ISIS.
“We have a deal with America, between the Pentagon and the Peshmerga ministry – and with the Iraqi government – that the defense lines before the Mosul operation are non-negotiable,” Barzani declared on November 16 in the recently liberated town of Bashiqa.
He warned that, even though ISIS was nearing defeat in Iraq, Kurdistan cannot become complacent.
“We don't know what will come to us after ISIS. We cannot say ISIS is gone and let’s relax now. This kind of challenge and threat will always be there. Therefore we should do for the Peshmerga several times more than what we ever did in the past – better organize ourselves, upgrade our weapons, improve our training and be ready for any threat.”
Over the past two days, Peshmerga forces have withdrawn from a number of disputed areas including Kirkuk, Shingal, Gwer, Makhmour, Khanaqin, and Snune.
These areas are now in the control of Iraqi armed forces and Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi.
Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani confirmed that the pre-Mosul borders have become “the basis of understanding for the mechanism of deploying Iraqi and Kurdistan Region forces,” he said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
Peshmerga took control of Kirkuk city in June 2014, after the Iraqi forces withdrew in the face of ISIS advances.
Shingal, Gwer, Makhmour, and Snune all came under Kurdish control during the war against ISIS before the Mosul offensive.
Khanaqin has been under Peshmerga control since 2003.