The Iraqi army has downed a drone belonging to Kurdish Peshmerga forces -- loyal to the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) -- in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, an army officer said Thursday.
“Army forces downed the drone near Al-Salamiyah village in the Nimrud district southeast of Mosul,” Army Captain Bassam Saad told Anadolu Agency.
Peshmerga spokesmen and KRG officials have yet to comment on the officer’s claims.
Earlier Thursday, Peshmerga forces reportedly cut the Erbil-Mosul road in Nineveh province.
Peshmerga cut Erbil-Mosul road: Iraqi military sources
Peshmerga forces loyal to northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have closed the Erbil-Mosul road in the northern Nineveh province, an Iraqi army officer said Thursday.“Peshmerga forces cut the Al-Khazir road, the last remaining means of accessing Mosul [from Erbil], by erecting concrete barriers,” Captain Saad Atwan, an officer in the Iraqi army’s 16th Brigade, told Anadolu Agency.“We have also received information that Peshmerga have closed the road linking Mosul to the KRG-controlled Duhok province,” he added.Akid Koran, a Peshmerga colonel, meanwhile, told Anadolu Agency that the closure of Al-Khazir road was “temporary”.“Peshmerga sealed the road in response to stepped-up activity by the Iraqi army near the borders of KRG-controlled areas,” he said.He went on to assert that the KRG’s security council had information about preparations by Iraqi forces, including Federal Police units and Hashd al-Shaabi terrorists, to launch a “large-scale” offensive in the region.Tension has mounted between the Iraqi government and the KRG since Sept. 25, when Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in some areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil (the KRG’s administrative capital) -- voted on whether or not to declare independence.The illegitimate referendum had faced strong opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.Along with a raft of other retaliatory steps, Iraq’s Council of Ministers earlier this week announced that legal measures had been taken against all KRG employees involved in conducting the regional poll.In the immediate aftermath of last month’s referendum, Baghdad banned international flights from entering KRG-controlled areas and closed all foreign diplomatic missions based in the Kurdish region.
The move was reportedly based on information obtained by the KRG’s security council that Iraqi forces, including Federal Police units and Hashd al-Shaabi terrorists, were preparing to launch a “large-scale” offensive in the region.
Tension has mounted between the Iraqi government and the KRG since Sept. 25, when Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in some areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil (the KRG’s administrative capital) -- voted on whether or not to declare independence.
In the immediate aftermath of last month’s illegitimate referendum, Baghdad banned international flights from entering KRG-controlled areas and closed all foreign diplomatic missions based in the Kurdish region.
Ovaköy border gate to end Barzani’s lifeline
Turkey is working on the Ovaköy border gate, which is due to become an alternative to the Habur border gate, currently the only commercial trade route Ankara shares with Baghdad. The alternative border gate that was proposed by Turkey will deliver a huge blow to the terror corridor in northern Iraq and northern Syria.The lifeline of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, who conducted an illegitimate referendum for the formation of a puppet state linked to the U.S. and Israel, will be cut with Ovaköy.Turkey has a trade volume of $8 billion with Iraq through the Habur border gate. Only $1.5 billion dollars of this figure belongs to northern Iraq. At least $6.5 billion worth of goods being transported to other parts of Iraq have been held by Barzani because they pass through Habur. The Barzani administration, which earns a large income from the transit fee of goods being transported to the whole of Iraq, will be cut from this income once Ovaköy becomes active.Ovaköy: The border gate that will bypass northern IraqThe Ovaköy line, which is the second shield in the terror corridor, will start from the bottom of the Syrian border in the west of Habur, pass near Tel Afar and through Mosul and pass by the Barzani district. The 120-kilometer stabilized road to be used for connection to the main road from Mosul will become an international trade route.Military operation inevitableIt is stated that a military operation is inevitable to open the way of trade directly with Baghdad instead of Erbil. Just as it is in Habur, the territory opposite Ovaköy is also within the borders of the KRG.Iraqi and Turkish troops must ensure security, especially on the short route within the KRG region. Peshmerga forces of Barzani are present on the border of Syria in the north of Iraq under the guise of fighting Daesh. It is expected that the Baghdad central government will establish military bases along the line for the security of the trade route.KRG says willing to discuss row over airports, banks with IraqMuch delayed strategic stepTurkey has five gates with Iran and one with Iraq, which is now being regarded as a grave mistake. Ankara is bringing Ovaköy to life by taking a much delayed strategic step.The Turkish-Iraqi trade route reaches Baghdad from Habur after passing through all the cities of northern Iraq. Therefore, trade assets exceeding $8 billion dollars have left their wealth to northern Iraq to this day.When the alternative to Habur is made in Ovaköy, Kurds Turkmen, Arab and other groups will feel the prosperity of trade. Direct commercial cooperation between Ovaköy and Turkey-Baghdad will be achieved.Turkey conducts approximately $6 billion worth of trade with Iran through five border gates, and approximately $8 billion with Iraq through one border gate.KRG referendum’s enactment ‘hinges on dialogue’The establishment of alternative border gates has long been on the agenda for trade with Iraq, but the Barzani administration, which did not want to abandon the riches of the Habur gate and the trade bridge between Turkey and the Baghdad administration, responded very slowly.Ovaköy’s unlimited benefitsOvaköy will bring important strategic gains for both Iraq and Turkey, as well as neutralizing the role of northern Iraq in Ankara’s trade with Baghdad. Just some of these benefits are as follows:*Direct line of bilateral trade between Ankara and Baghdad*Turkish and Iraqi armed forces enabled to act jointly*The western part of Turkey’s southeastern Dicle is completely under the control of Baghdad The Baghdad government will imprison Barzani in the area outlined by the 2005 constitution*Baghdad’s influence on the KRG will be boosted*Barzani will be surrounded, forcing him to take a step back*A secure environment that will enable all people, especially the Turkmen city of Kirkuk, to live as freely as they used to. The supply flow to Kirkuk will be ensured and it will contribute significantly to boosting the welfare of the regions where the trade route will pass*Through the secured trade route, the link between the PKK in northern Iraq and the terrorists in Sinjar will be completely severed*The road between Syria and Iraq will be cut off. Therefore, the supply line between the PKK terrorist organization and the Syrian extension PYD is also completely cut off.*As a result of the bases that Turkey will establish along the route, a great blow will be dealt to the “Great Israel Project,” which is supposedly meant to ensure an independent “Kurdistan”*The “Dicle Shield” military operation will be given a commercial identity
KRG referendum’s enactment ‘hinges on dialogue’
Implementing the results of last month’s illegal independence referendum in a timely matter depends on “constructive and responsible dialogue” with Baghdad, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) said Wednesday.Last month, the KRG held a controversial referendum on whether to declare independence from Iraq, with Iraq and its neighbors denouncing it as illegitimate.In a statement released on the KRG’s official website, the Kurdish administration said Erbil was ready for dialogue with Baghdad “without any preconditions”.The statement also said the sanctions imposed by the Iraqi central government in retaliation to the referendum were “unconstitutional” and that exacerbating tensions would benefit nobody.On Sept. 25, Iraqis in areas controlled by the KRG and in areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, the KRG’s administrative capital, voted on whether to declare independence from Iraq’s central government.According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.The illegitimate referendum had faced strong opposition from most regional and international actors, including the U.S., Turkey and Iran, who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.Along with a raft of other retaliatory measures, Iraq’s Council of Ministers on Monday said legal procedures were now under way against all KRG employees involved in conducting the regional poll.In the referendum’s immediate aftermath, Baghdad also moved to ban all international flights into KRG-controlled areas and closed all foreign diplomatic missions based in the region.