The Latest: Iraq temporarily halts movement against Kurds
BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq (all times local):
Iraq’s Prime Minister is issuing a 24-hour suspension of the movement of troops who are deployed to bring territory held by Kurdish forces back under federal control.
Haider al-Abadi says in a statement Friday the order was given to “prevent clashes and bloodshed between the sons of one nation.”
The announcement follows conflicting reports from the U.S.-led coalition that a cease-fire had been reached between Kurdish forces and troops deployed by Iraq’s central government.
After initially announcing a cease-fire, the Coalition said the statement was incorrect, but added talks were ongoing.
Tensions between Irbil and Baghdad spiked following a controversial referendum on independence held by the Kurds in September.
Earlier this month, al-Abadi ordered federal forces to retake Kirkuk and other areas held by Kurdish forces, but outside their autonomous region.
The spokesperson for the U.S.-led Coalition says he incorrectly announced a cease-fire has been reached between the Iraqi central government and the country’s Kurdish minority.
Col. Ryan Dillon says while talks are ongoing and clashes had temporarily ceased, an official cease-fire had not been declared Friday.
Escalating tensions between Irbil and Baghdad erupted into violence earlier this month following a controversial referendum on independence held by the Kurds in September.
Clashes broke out when federal forces retook the disputed city of Kirkuk and other areas outside the autonomous Kurdish region that the Kurds had seized from the Islamic State group.
IS conquered those areas after sweeping across the country in 2014. Most of the Kurdish forces withdrew without a fight, but reports of low-level clashes continued and tensions remained.
The U.S.-led coalition says a cease-fire has been reached between Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurdish minority, temporarily halting clashes that followed a controversial vote on Kurdish independence last month.
Col. Ryan Dillon says the coalition was informed of the cease-fire Friday morning and coalition officials are encouraging both sides to ensure “it’s not just temporary.”
Clashes broke out between Baghdad-led forces and Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga earlier this month when Iraq’s military retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The Kurdish referendum on support for independence held in September stoked tensions between Irbil and Baghdad and well as across the region.
The cease-fire comes after more than two weeks of largely low-level clashes and warnings from the coalition that the dispute was distracting from the IS fight.