By Sarhad Shakir
Northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has urged Baghdad to halt its ongoing military deployments near the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
“We are concerned about the ongoing mobilization of Iraqi forces [near the Kurdish region], including the deployment of Hashd al-Shaabi fighters,” the KRG’s Security Council said in a Monday statement.
A largely Shia fighting force, the Hashd al-Shaabi was incorporated into the Iraqi army last year and has since fought alongside Iraqi regular troops in a number of major anti-Daesh operations.
“Within the last 48 hours, Iraq has mobilized large numbers of troops, along with combat tanks and armored vehicles, around the [Kurdish] region,” the KRG statement read.
It went on to urge Baghdad to withdraw its forces from “all areas” they had recently moved into and to hold “unconditional talks” with the Erbil-based KRG.
Earlier the same day, judicial authorities in the Kurdish region issued arrest warrants for 11 Iraqi officials who they accused of “inciting violence”.
The developments come amid steadily mounting tension between Baghdad and the KRG over last month’s illegitimate poll on Kurdish regional independence.
Last week, Iraqi government forces -- including Hashd al-Shaabi contingents -- moved into several parts of the country disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.