But US slams ‘negative impact’ of peshmerga-PMU clashes
by James Tweedie
IRAQI forces launched a new offensive against Isis fighters yesterday, advancing on the border with Syria.
On the way to the border town of al-Qaim, soldiers liberated the H-2 oil pipeline station and adjacent air base and reached the outskirts of Rawa on the Euphrates river to the north.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the offensive from the Iranian capital Tehran after arriving from Turkey.
In Ankara on Wednesday he held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Both Iraq and Turkey opposed an independence referendum organised by Iraqi Kurdistan regional president Masoud Barzani. Turkey has often resorted to extreme violence against its own Kurdish population.
In Tehran yesterday Mr Abadi repeated his demand that Mr Barzani must cancel result of the referendum — a Yes vote — before any talks can be held, stressing that the referendum was unconstitutional in the first place.
Fighting continued yesterday between pro-government PMU militia and Kurdish peshmerga north-west of Mosul near the Syrian and Turkish borders.
Iraqi Kurdistan officials claimed PMU fighters attacked its positions near Zummar as they tried to advance on Faysh Khabur on the Turkish border but were driven back.
But PMU spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi said the peshmerga fired on his forces first as they moved to secure the border, although they caused no casualties.
The US-led military coalition complained that the operations were obstructing cross-border shipments of arms to its Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces allies, who are racing the Syrian army to take control of the Iraqi border region from the rapidly crumbling Isis.
Spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said the fighting had “negatively impacted coalition efforts to defeat Isis, specifically the inability to move military equipment and supplies to our partners both in Iraq and Syria.”