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In fighting ISIS, Kurds have regained 90 percent of ‘disputed territories’ that are also claimed by Baghdad

By Rudaw 31/10/2016
Peshmerga forces in the Mosul offensive. File photo.
Peshmerga forces in the Mosul offensive. File photo.


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - As territories controlled by ISIS in Iraq continue to shrink in the battle to liberate the militants’ stronghold of Mosul that began more than a fortnight ago, Iraq’s autonomous Kurds appear to be bringing a vast majority of the so-called “disputed areas” with Baghdad under their control once the operation is over.


Bestun Fayaq, an MP who is on the Kurdistan Parliament’s committee that looks after the disputed territories, told Rudaw that at least 90 percent of territories claimed by the Kurds will be under Peshmerga control as the Kurdish forces advance toward Mosul.


“By controlling a small portion of Kurdish territory from the Nineveh Plains, which is yet to be liberated, more than 90 percent of the Kurdistan Region’s lands from Nineveh will come under Kurdish control," he explained, adding that the disputed areas are those described in the Iraqi constitution’s Article 140.


After ISIS swept into a third of Iraq more than two years ago, wide swaths of land claimed both by the Kurds and Baghdad for 13 years also fell to ISIS. But the militants’ multiple defeats on the battlefields allowed the Kurds to regain control over the territories.


Gwer and Makhmour are two key areas for Kurdistan which were forcefully annexed to Nineveh Province by the ex-Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein.


A Kurdish commander running two war fronts told Rudaw that the Peshmerga have fully accomplished their missions by evicting ISIS from Kurdish-claimed territories southeast of Mosul.


“[Ninety eight percent] of the Kurdish land in the Makhmour and Gwer regions have been liberated by the Peshmerga and what is left  is seven villages, which constitutes only two percent of the territories,” Sirwan Barzani, commander of the Peshmerga forces on the Gwer-Makhmour front, told Rudaw.


Barzani insisted that the Peshmerga “will not withdraw from territories they have liberated, and to protect them, we have dug trenches.”


But in the Garmaser region that falls in eastern and southeastern Kirkuk, most of the disputed territories are under the Iraqi army’s control.


The head of the Garmaser front believes that the restoration of these areas into Kurdistan needs “political agreements.”


“Areas 90 kilometers wide and 130 kilometers long on the Garmaser front are held by the Iraqi armed forces, including Saadia, Mandali and part of Khanaqin town," said Mahmood Sangawi, who is in charge of the front. 


According to a 2014 decree issued by the Kurdish Parliament, the Peshmerga should stay in areas they bring under their control.


“The Peshmerga could stay in areas they liberate from ISIS,” added Fayeq, believing that “there must be an assurance that they are not retaken from the Kurdistan Region after ISIS" is finished.


In the meantime, the Peshmerga continue to advance towards the outskirts of Mosul city, with some units only five kilometers from the city center, military commanders told Rudaw Sunday. 


"We have accomplished our mission and now we are about five to six kilometers away from Mosul," said Peshmerga commander Sihad Barzani. 


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Hersh | 31/10/2016
Please stop using that ridiculous term "disputed territories" , it's Kurdish territory but it's outside the current official KRG borders. Remember that the current KRG borders were suppose to only be the first draft negotiated between the Kurdish leadership and regime of Saddam Hussien back in 1991, certain Kurdish areas outside the first draft (disputed territories) were suppose to be negotiated on because most of it was occupied by illegal Arab settlers brought in by Saddam in the 70's and 80's. But Saddam had no intention of going through with it so he delayed the process until his regime collapsed. After Saddam the Arab parties in the "new" Iraq recognized the ethnic cleansing of Kurds in these areas and the illegal Arabization process that followed, so article 140 was specifically put in the new Iraqi constitution to fix this issue. Simply put the illegal Arab settlers would be compensated and sent back to their original provinces then a referendum would be held (more as a formality) to decide if these areas should be incorporated into KRG, but just like Saddam the Arab parties had no intention of going through with it and never implemented article 140. We tried to settle this issue with the Arabs through negotiations in a civilized way for 30 years! but it seems you can't use civilized methods with uncivilized people, now most of these areas are back under the control of their right full owners (Kurds) thanks to our forces the Peshmerga.
Thoma Sleeha | 31/10/2016
May the God Almighty protect the Peshmerga fighters in this battle against the evil and give them the victory at the earliest.
martin archer | 31/10/2016
The Kurds would be well advised to reclaim all the lands they claim for Kurdistan and not go one inch beyond them no matter what the US officials and generals promise - because all of their promises will mean nothing because they will all be replaced in a few weeks by new officials and generals who will not be bound by their promises.
Non kurd | 31/10/2016
Good job, the kurds have done a good job developing territory under their control. Now get ready to face the wrath of Iranian backed terrorists.
Ibrahim Ariyan | 1/11/2016
Kurds negotiated with Baghdad for 13 years to peacefully re-attach lands that were forcefully taken away & Arabized. To continue to negotiate for Khanageen, Mendali & Sa'dia is stupendous and illogical. As for those that always find a way to criticize the USA, if it is not for the help of the USA the Kurds would be at the merci of Saddam, Turkish generals, Assad, and Khomeini. Don't forget the USA stopped Saadam's genocide against the Kurds, enforced the oil for food program that saved Kurds from starvation, forced PDK & PUK to cease internal fighting and create the strategic agreement, pursuaded Kurds to become part of the "new" Iraq and legally bring back the lost territories and gain international recognition. Today, it is the United States that is helping Kurdistan keep all its enemies at bay, especially ISIS. Let's be a little more appreciative and some gratitude towards Kurds main friends, the WEST and specially the USA.

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