Sheikh Ja­far Mustafa: Barzani Or­dered Pesh­merga to Lib­er­ate Bah­sir Vil­lage

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

A Kur­dish Pesh­merga Com­man­der said the lib­er­a­tion of Bashir Vil­lage was a strate­gic event and the lib­er­at­ing op­er­a­tion was or­dered by Pres­i­dent of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, Ma­soud Barzani.

“The lo­cal peo­ple in this area had called on Pesh­marga forces to drive out the mil­i­tants from the vil­lage for quite some time,” said Jaa­far Mustafa, com­man­der of the 70th Pesh­marga Brigade in the area. “We op­er­ated at their re­quest.”

A top of­fi­cial at the min­istry of pesh­marga told Ru­daw Wed­nes­day that the Kur­dish forces would re­main in the ar­eas they re­cap­ture from the ISIS mil­i­tants.

The Deputy Min­is­ter of Pesh­marga, An­war Os­man, said the with­drawal of their troops from ar­eas close to the Kur­dish bor­ders could lead to se­cu­rity vac­uum as the Iraqi army is cur­rently en­gaged in other re­gions and un­able to pa­trol neigh­bor­ing war­zones.

“Pesh­marga forces will pri­mar­ily op­er­ate in Kurd- ish ar­eas and when such places are lib­er­ated, our troops will re­main there,” Os­man said.

Os­man said the de­ci­sion will also in­clude the pre­dom­i­nately Turk­men vil­lage of Bashir which was re­taken from the mil­i­tants last week af­ter heavy fight­ing in which three Pesh­merga sol­diers were killed along with 17 wounded.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said the vil­lage was in a strate­gic lo­ca­tion from where ISIS of­ten fired rock­ets at the Pesh­merga, some­times armed with chem­i­cal gas.

The ma­jor­ity of the Turk­men res­i­dents in the vil­lage of Bashir are Shi­ite Turk­men Mus­lims. Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties fear that Shi­ite mili­tias would en­ter the re­gion and re­cruit the young Turk­men and stir sec­tar­ian ten­sions.

“We pre­dict that the Shi­ite mili­tias will cap­i­tal­ize on the vul­ner­a­ble young pop­u­la­tion of this area and cre­ate the same sit­u­a­tion that we wit­nessed in Khur­matu,” said Hasan Baram a top Kur­dish rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the re­gion, referring to the last week’s ten­sions be­tween Kur­dish and Shi­ite forces in Khur­matu, which left some thirty peo­ple killed and dozens more wounded.

The Nin­eveh Plains west of Kirkuk and ar­eas south of the oil rich city are home to Iraq’s mixt pop­u­la­tion with dif­fer­ent eth­nic and re­li­gious back­grounds. In most of these vil­lages Kurds, Arabs, Turk­men, Chris­tians and many other groups have lived to­gether for cen­turies.

Af­ter the col­lapse of the Baathist rule in Iraq in 2003, these ar­eas came un­der a new con­sti­tu­tional ar­ti­cle which des­ig­nated them as dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries whose fu­ture was to be de­cided in a ref­eren- dum.

But since no ref­er­en­dum was ever held, dif­fer­ent groups may try to as­sert author­ity through mil­i­tary pres­ence.

Kur­dish mil­i­tary sources say the ma­jor­ity of the vil­lages south of Kirkuk and neigh­bor­ing Nin­eveh Plains are cur­rently con­trolled by ISIS mil­i­tants with the sup­port of the lo- cal Sunni pop­u­la­tion.

“We fear that the Shi­ite mili­tias are do­ing the same and take the charge in the ar­eas with pre­dom­i­nate Shi­ite res­i­dents,” Baram said, fear­ing wider sec­tar­ian stand­off.

“We re­ally hope that Khur­matu was just an iso­lated case,” he added.

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