Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks in his weekly press conference to reporters. Photo: Video grab
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that the Kurdish Peshmerga were not informed about the offensive launched by the mainly-Shiite Hashid al-Shaabi in the Yezidi area of Shingal on Sunday, and as the result the Kurdistan Region expressed its “concerns” adding that the problem has now been resolved.
In his weekly press conference, the PM was asked about future clashes between the Peshmerga and the Hashd al-Shaabi in light of the unannounced Hashd operation west of Nineveh.
He said that the problem has “now fully been resolved, God willing.”
Abadi added that he ordered the go-ahead to Hashd in a teleconference with the Hashd commanders without informing the Peshmerga about the deployment.
He said the Kurdish side, therefore, was “taken by surprise” because it did not have advance knowledge.
Additionally, he said that he sent a delegation to meet with the Kurdish side to resolve the issue after Kurdistan’s “concerns” two days ago.
Iraq's National Security Advisor Falah al-Fayadh, who is also the head of the Hashd al-Shaabi council, met with President Barzani in Erbil on Monday.
Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament Shakhawan Abdullah told Rudaw that Fayadh delivered a message from the Iraqi PM to President Barzani in this regard after Barzani's warnings.
"There was a message from Abadi to [President] Barzani that the operation will be halted," Abdullah said, adding that the Iraqi side informed the Kurdish President that there will be "cooperation" with regard to Hashd and Iraqi movements in the area.
A statement from the Kurdish presidency said that the two sides "emphasized the cooperation between the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan and the Iraqi army in this stage."
Hashd launched an offensive last Friday to reclaim areas from the ISIS group located west of Nineveh stretching all the way to the Syrian border, in particular Qairawan and Baa’j towns, located south of the Yezidi town of Shingal.
On Sunday, the Shiite paramilitary started to advance towards the two Yezidi town of Tal Banat and Qasab — near the Peshmerga lines — besieging both places.
A Peshmerga official said that they did have knowledge of Hashd movements in the areas confined to Qairawan and Baa’j, but he claimed that the plans were then changed halfway into their implementation.
The official explained that soon after the Hashd al-Shaabi besieged the two Yezidi villages, President Masoud Barzani was informed of the Hashd movement, so the president stressed in the meeting with the Shingal officials that “Hashd must not enter those [Yezidi] areas.”
The official who was an attendant of the Barzani meeting told Rudaw on Monday that Peshmerga were aware of the plan in the first place. He accused the Hashd of changing their plans by attacking Yezidi populated areas and "breaching" an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad on the Shingal region which rejects Shiite presence in the region.
“As soon as we realized they had changed their plan, we informed President Barzani and therefore he asked for an urgent meeting," said Sarbast Lazgin who is tasked with overseeing Peshmerga forces in Shingal.