"As you see, it was a very heavy fight," said Peshmerga commander Anwari Haji Othman in Pirde.
The Peshmerga claimed they destroyed 2 tanks, 12 Humvees, and 1 armoured personnel carrier of the Shiite force.
Iraqi forces have stated that Pirde (Altun Kupri) is under their full control.
Kurdistan security council condemns global ‘silence’ on Iraqi ‘aggression’
The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) has condemned the “deafening silence” from the world as Iraq, with Iranian support, has attacked Kurdistan.
At 8 o’clock Friday morning, the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi, “armed with American weapons, launched an unprovoked, multi-pronged attack” on the Peshmerga, the KRSC stated, in a press release on Friday evening. The Iraqi forces attacked from the west on the Dubiz-Erbil road and on the east from near Qarabag village.
“Their objective was to enter Qushtapa in South of Erbil,” the KRSC claimed.
Karim Nuri, a commander in the Hashd al-Shaabi, had earlier denied that they intended to enter Erbil, but had been ordered by Iraqi PM Abadi to stop at the Kirkuk-Erbil border.
The KRSC said the “Peshmerga bravely defended Kurdistan in today’s attack,” in which the Iraqi forces used American weapons that had been provided for the war against ISIS.
The security council laid blame on global powers for sitting idly by while Iraqi forces carried out their attacks that have “destabilized at least three of the country’s safest provinces.”
“The deafening silence from the international community has emboldened Iraq and neighbouring countries to attack Kurdistan. The army ostensibly created to defend the people is used today to attack the people of Kurdistan. Iraq’s continued attacks have confirmed Kurds’ legitimate fears about our future in this country. The international community must now intervene and condemn Iraq’s aggressive military attacks.”
The KRSC called on Iraqi forces to withdraw from “occupied territories.”
Iraqi forces have stated that Pirde (Altun Kupri) is under their full control.
Peshmerga claims high casualties among Iraqi forces
The western command of the Peshmerga, formerly stationed in western Kirkuk, stated that six Peshmerga were killed among their forces in Friday’s clashes and a number were injured.
The command said they destroyed two tanks, including one Abrams tank, one armored vehicle, and more than 12 Humvees.
They also claim more than 150 casualties, killed and injured, among the Iraqi forces, consisting of the Iraqi army, Hashd al-Shaabi, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and mercenaries, they reported.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said the Peshmerga used the MILAN anti-tank system against its forces in Friday’s clashes in Pirde (Altun Kupri). The defense system was given by Germany to the Peshmerga “exclusively” for the war against ISIS, the statement read.
It said the MILAN weapons caused material and human losses among the Iraqi forces, calling it a violation.
It did not provide details of the number of casualties.
Iraqi forces stated that Altun Kupri is under their full control, also confirmed by Rudaw's reporters.
Two journalists injured in Iraq-Peshmerga clashes
A Rudaw cameraman and a Belgian freelance reporter were injured while covering Friday’s clashes in Pirde, also known as Altun Kupri. Their injuries are not life threatening.
Rudaw cameraman Saman Ghani was covering the clashes, where he said the Peshmerga were putting up “a lot of resistance” when a mortar landed near him.
“I was standing by the reporter, Hiwa Husamadin. A mortar shell landed suddenly next to us by the Humvee. [Shrapnel] hit my hand and neck. But thank God I feel very good now,” said Ghani.
Freelance Belgian photojournalist Jonathan Raa was also injured. He told Rudaw he was feeling fine and his thoughts were with the Peshmerga fighting on the frontline.
Paris to Baghdad: Show restraint and respect Kurdish rights
France has called on the Iraqi government to “show restraint” as Baghdad-controlled forces, along with Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, are about 50 km south of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.
“We ask the federal government to show restraint and fully respect the rights of the Kurds,” French foreign ministry spokesperson Agnes Romatet-Espagne said, Reuters reported.
France and the Kurdistan Region have enjoyed close ties that go back decades. French military trainers have provided training and military assistance to the Peshmerga in the war against ISIS since mid-2014.
Governor says Erbil is ‘calm and stable’
Nawzad Hadi, Erbil governor, told reporters on Friday that Erbil is calm and there are no threats to its security while clashes were underway between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces just 60 kilometers out of the city.
“Erbil downtown is certainly stable, clam and there is no threat on the capital,” said Hadi.
“Erbil is a strong, stable and calm political center. Thus, we are assuring the beloved people of Erbil that the city is calm,” he added, asking media outlets to “responsibly and loyally deal with the situation which is very delicate.”
“Any movement that is going to be dangerous, the Peshmerga is ready to stand against,” Hadi added.
He believes “what happened in Kirkuk will not happen in any other area of the Kurdistan Region,” Hadi said, referring the takeover of Kirkuk by the Iraqi army and Iranian backed-Hashd al-Shaabi forces on Monday.
“It is clear that Pirde is associated with Kirkuk not Erbil province, but their movements are on the borderlines of both provinces.”
Iraqi PM orders forces to stop at Kirkuk boundaries
Karim Nuri, a commander of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi has told Rudaw that the Iraqi forces will stop at the administrative boundaries of Kirkuk province with Erbil.
“The commander-in-chief, Haider al-Abadi has issued orders to all military units not to cross the administrative boundaries of Kirkuk province towards Erbil," he said.
He denied that the Iraqi forces are aiming to enter Erbil.
Peshmerga: We’ve defeated Iraqi forces in Altun Kupri
Until now, all attacks by the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi and Iraqi forces have been repelled and forces defeated by Peshmerga, the General Command said.
The Peshmerga General Command stated that Iranian artillery is involved in the Iraqi-led offensive to take Altun Kupri, just 50 km south of Erbil.
It added that the Peshmerga forces have put up a strong defense against the advancing forces.
The following is the full statement from the Peshmerga General Command.
In the morning of Friday October 20, 2017 at 8am, the Hashd al-Shaabi militias using American weapons which were given to the Iraqi army launched a widespread attack on the Peshmerga forces in [Altun Kupri] Pirde with Iranian artillery units also involved. Until now, all of the attacks have been repelled and forces defeated. More than 10 Humvees and an Abrams tank were destroyed.
In the confrontation, the Kurdistan Peshmerga forces have bravely put up a defense, achieving a great dignity for them.
The aim of the Iraqi government assault is to reclaim all of the Kirkuk administrative areas.
Peshmerga deploys reinforcement to Altun Kupri
Kurdish Peshmerga forces have deployed a large number of reinforcements carrying heavy weapons to Altun Kupri about 50 km south of Erbil, Rudaw’s Hunar Ahmad reported from the front line.
Kurdistan Security Council: US-made Abrams tank destroyed
The Kurdish Peshmerga forces have destroyed “one US Abrams tank and dozen armored vehicles used by ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] and PMF [Hashd al-Shaabi] North of Kirkuk,” the Kurdistan Region’s Security Council stated.
It stated earlier that the Hashd and Iraqi forces are using American weapons given to Iraq for the war against ISIS.
“The Kurdish Peshmerga are under attack in Alton Kupri, north of Kirkuk, by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed PMF [Hashd al-Shaabi], using American weapons,” it said.
Anti-ISIS Global Coalition calls on Iraq, KRG to ‘reduce tensions’
The US-led Global Coalition has said that they are aware of the events happening in Altun Kupri, where the Iraqi forces, supported by the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi are involved in fierce fighting against the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
“We are aware of these reports, and we continue to urge all sides to reduce tensions,” the Coalition told Rudaw via e-mail.
“We remain focused on our mission to defeat ISIS and are preparing to support the offensive against ISIS in Western Anbar,” it continued.
Iraq: Altun Kupri falls to Iraqi forces
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command has claimed that they are now in full control of Altun Kupri, the last town to fall to Iraqi forces in Kirkuk province.
It said that the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), the Federal Police, and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi have taken the town.
Altun Kupri under attack
Kamal Kirkuki, a Peshmerga commander, has claimed that they are putting up a “strong defense” against advancing Iraqi forces.
He said that they have defeated the advances on three fronts, but that clashes continue.
An Iraqi commander, however, cited by AFP claimed that they had entered the town and raised the Iraqi flag. Another Iraqi commander cited by AP had said that the town will be the last that their forces will bring under their control.
The town falls in areas which were under the control of Iraqi forces before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Kurdistan’s Security Council said that Peshmerga positions are under attack.
“The Kurdish Peshmerga are under attack in Alton Kupri, north of Kirkuk, by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed PMF [Hashd al-Shaabi], using American weapons,” the security council said.
Peshmerga defeats Iraqi army, Shiite militia attack north of Kirkuk after heavy fire exchange
A Rudaw reporter from the scene said the Peshmerga defeated the Hashd attack near Pirde town on the main Erbil-Kirkuk road.
The reporter added that Peshmerga forces have surrounded Hashd al-Shaabi in Pirde.
“They have begun movements from villages around Pirde. But we have stood against them here with a significant amount of force," the Peshmerga commander said.
“We will defeat them,” he said from the spot of the confrontation adding "as of now we have destroyed two Humvee.
He claimed that the Hashd al-Shaabi is using American weapons given to the Iraqi army for the war against ISIS militants.
“We are on alert for any possibilities,” he added.
Altun Kupri, 50 km north of Kirkuk, lies outside the borders of the Kurdish capital of Erbil, but falls under the administration of the oil-rich Iraqi-held Kirkuk.
Brig. Gen. Raad Baddai, from the Iraqi army, told the AP on Thursday that the town would be “the last area” his forces will retake north of Kirkuk. He added that they were awaiting orders to enter the town “in the coming hours.”
The Iraqi forces, and the Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd a-Shaabi, took control of most of the disputed or Kurdistani areas on Monday and Tuesday, rolling back the Peshmerga.