Kurdish president Barzani receives top US general in Erbil, discuss Sinjar situation

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Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani (R) meets US General Joseph Votel in Erbil. Photo: Kurdistan Region's Presidency

ARA News

President Masoud Barzani received a United States military delegation headed by General Joseph Votel, the Commander of the Central Command.

During the meeting President Barzani and General Votel spoke of the latest updates on the ongoing operations against the terrorists of the Islamic State, particularly the Mosul operation which is reaching its end, the Kurdistan Region’s Presidency said in a statement.

“President Barzani reiterated his position of the significance of the post-liberation plan for the management of Mosul, adding that that step is of equal importance to the military operation of Mosul as the people of Mosul deserve to be fairly represented in the upcoming local government of the city,” the statement read.

According to the Kurdish presidency office,  General Votel acknowledged the vital role of the Peshmerga forces in the operations against the terrorists of the Islamic State and conveyed his condolences to the families and loved ones of those who paid the ultimate price in the fight against ISIS.

“General Votel stated that the United States government will continue to provide support to the Kurdistan Region as the Peshmerga forces are playing an essential role in the overall fight against the terrorists of the Islamic State, adding that this ongoing war has brought the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the United States even closer to one another,” the statement added.

“On his part, President Barzani conveyed his message of gratitude to the people and government of the United States for their support to the Kurdistan Region as we collectively attempt to defeat this very dangerous enemy,” the presidency said.

The two sides also discussed the recent arrival of the Shia Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) in the disputed territory of South Sinjar, that deeply unnerved the Kurdish leadership since the PMU attempted to recruit Yezidis that are members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

President Barzani warned on Tuesday against any “attempted military incursion” into the Kurdistan Region’s territory.

“We strongly reject any attempt by any force to cross the Kurdistan border and stand against any bid to impose the will of a specific force,” he was cited by the Kurdistan Region Presidency as saying. “Reasons which caused the emergency of Daesh [ISIS] are about to come up again.”

In an exclusive interview with ARA News, Sinjar’s Peshmerga commander Serbest Lezgeen said that the recent arrival of the PMU forces in South Sinjar is a violation to the agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region. According to the agreement, the Peshmerga forces and Iraqi army would jointly liberate South Sinjar from ISIS.

“The Peshmerga and Iraqi army were supposed to liberate this area together, but the PMU appeared ignoring this agreement, and launched this operation,” Lezgeen said.

He admitted that relations between the PMU and the Peshmergas exist, but that the PMU violated the agreement.

Moreover, he denied that Peshmergas joined the PMU. He said that ordinary Yezidis joined the PMU “for financial reasons”.

“Some ordinary people in the area joined the PMU, those people joined for a salary,” the Peshmerga commander told ARA News.

However, spokespersons of the PMU have denied any violation to the agreement and said they received orders from Baghdad to clear out the Iraqi-Syrian border from ISIS.

“We will fight Daesh [ISIS] wherever they are,” PMU spokesman Ahmed Al-Assadi told ARA News. “We will take the border of Iraq and Syria.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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