KIRKUK, aswataliraq.info – Kurdistan region, 22.11.2102 – Iraqi heavy armored vehicles left Baghdad heading to Tuz district and arrived in Hamrin Mountains, a source from the 16th brigade of the Iraqi army said on Wednesday.
“A motorcade consists of 11 tanks, 12 hammers arrived in Hamrin Mountains,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. Tensions have been steadily building this week over the formation of a new command centre for Iraqi forces to operate in an area over which both Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) claim jurisdiction.
On Tuesday, the Iraqi army rushed thousands of troops and reinforcements to the area after the Kurdish regional government placed its Peshmerga militia forces on high alert along the arc of disputed territory that spans the borders of the semiautonomous Kurdish enclave. Colonel Dhia al-Wakil, a spokesman for the Iraqi army, said the additional troops were dispatched “only as a precautionary measure, to face any possible attack from the Peshmerga.” But Kurds said they suspect that the reinforcements, which include tanks and heavy artillery, signal an intent to attack their forces.
“If the central government keeps sending these extra troops, we fear there may be clashes,” said Jabar Yawar, the Peshmerga’s secretary general. “If one bullet is fired, the whole of the disputed areas will erupt in flames.”
American officials have stepped in to mediate amid concerns that a crisis that is rapidly becoming the country’s worst since US troops left almost a year ago could erupt into a full-blown war.