ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The US-led Global Coalition has confirmed that Kurdish and Iraqi forces are in talks, following ten days of sporadic clashes.
In an interview with Rudaw TV on Friday, Colonel Ryan Dillon, the spokesperson for the Coalition in Baghdad, had said: “What we know is that there is a ceasefire,” adding that they want the ceasefire to be extended so that every side will “refocus” on the war against ISIS.
He later clarified on Twitter that there is no “official ‘ceasefire’” though both parties are talking with one another.
Iraqi security forces supported by the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) controlled the oil-rich province of Kirkuk on October 16. The advancing forces continued to drive towards the recognized boundaries of the Kurdistan Region including the border areas with Syria and Turkey in Fish-Khabur, where the two sides exchanged heavy fire, mainly on Thursday, causing casualties from both sides.
A Shiite leader told the BBC they have agreed to create a “military committee” consisting of commanders from both sides as a first step towards “political negotiations.”
Hadi al-Amiri, secretary general of the Badr organization, said a ceasefire began Thursday night and the Shiite forces do not want to see a civil war, something they consider “haram,” the BBC’s Nafiseh Kohnavard reported.
Dillon stressed on Twitter that the Coalition is encouraging the two to continue to engage in dialogue without further conflict.
He had told Rudaw TV that the Coalition wants to see an extended ceasefire and an end to the fighting. “We certainly want that to extend, to not be just a ceasefire for a short period of time, but that it extends and there is no more fighting. So we are encouraging is dialogue, and to trying to get the right people through our contacts from both Peshmerga and the Iraqi security forces. So that something could be worked out diplomatically, and through dialogue, as opposed through fighting.”
The Peshmerga stated that the Iraqi forces, including the Hashd, used American weapons supplied to Iraq for the war on ISIS, including Abrams tanks. The Kurdish forces have said they had destroyed two such tanks.
Iraq on the other side, accused the Kurdish Peshmerga of using German-supplied MILAN weapons against the Iraqi forces. The Peshmerga denied the accusations.
The Peshmerga also claimed that some elements of the Hashd forces have obtained American weapons. The Coalition replying that they are aware of such reports, but that they have to verify them.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Hashd force, is on the US terror list.
Colonel Dillon said that there are “Certain elements within the Popular Mobilization Forces [PMF] that we are not allowed to provide weapons and/or training.”
“The only elements that the United States and the Coalition work with and provide equipments to defeat against ISIS has been vetted Iraqi security units. That means they cannot be associated with the government of Iran, they cannot have a history of anything to do with terrorist organizations, and they must be free of any kind of human rights violations,” he continued.
He said they are trying to mediate between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to get the tensions down and refocus the efforts on defeating the defeat of ISIS.
He said that the clashes between the two governments, who used to coordinate their military operation against the ISIS militants, have now negatively affected the Coalition efforts both in Iraq and Syria.
He said the clashes have diverted some of their rescues since they have to watch the movements of the two forces, and that they have now problems deploying supplies and resources to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces through the Kurdish Syrian border since the fight began.
Updated at 5:32 pm