Mobilization leader threatens to use force to expel Peshmerga from recaptured areas

Baghdad – A leader of pro-government paramilitary forces has threatened to use force against Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga troops to drive them out of areas recaptured from the Islamic State.

Jawad al-Tleibawi, a senior leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces, was quoted by Alsumaria News saying Iraqi territories “should be subjected to state control”, threatening to use force against Peshmerga if they fail to abide by Prme Minister Haider al-Abadi’s directives.

“If Barzani (Kurdistan Region’s president) does not boey the directives of the supreme leader of the armed forces, will will not stop at expelling Peshmerga from liberated areas, but will also reach the (Kurdistan) region’s outskirts,” said Tleibawi.

Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces and Peshmerga have been actively engaged in the three-year Iraqi war against Islamic State militants, but both parties had been at loggerheads over the control of areas retaken from the extremist group.

Past confrontations between PMF and Peshmerga in 2015 and 2016 at disputed territories left several fighters dead from both sides.

Baghdad and Erbil have engaged in occasional diplomatic spats over Peshmerga’s withdrawal from recaptured regions. Erbil has further fueled the political disagreement with plans for a non-binding domestic referendum on independence from Iraq.

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