The building housing the parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region in Arbil, Kurdistan's capital in northern Iraq, on July 3, 2014
The building housing the parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region in Arbil, Kurdistan's capital in northern Iraq, on July 3, 2014 © Safin Hamed - AFP/File
The building housing the parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region in Arbil, Kurdistan's capital in northern Iraq, on July 3, 2014
AFP
Last updated: October 22, 2014

Iraqi Kurds to vote on sending forces to Syria

Banner Icon Iraq's Kurdish regional parliament will hold a session on Wednesday to vote on deploying peshmerga security forces to aid Syrian Kurds battling jihadists from the Islamic State group, a senior lawmaker said.

Iraqi Kurdish regional lawmakers Wednesday approved the deployment of security forces to the Syrian town of Kobane to help Kurds battling the Islamic State jihadist group, the parliament speaker said.

The planned deployment of Kurdish peshmerga forces to neighbouring Syria, the details which are still under discussion, stretches the bounds of the Iraqi Kurdistan region's autonomy.

"The Kurdistan parliament decided to send forces to Kobane with the aim of supporting the fighters there and protecting Kobane," Yusef Mohammed Sadeq said, according to footage of the session.

Massud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, had sent a letter asking its legislature to give him the approval needed for the deployment.

Mustafa Qader, the minister responsible for the Kurdish peshmerga forces, told journalists that: "In the coming days, we will determine the number who will be sent and will not talk about it now."

He said the ministry would also decide on a commander for the deployment, but did not give a timeline for doing so, or for the arrival of the forces in Syria.

The deployment would be open-ended, with Qader saying that: "They will remain there until they are no longer needed."

The town of Kobane, located near the Turkish border, has become a crucial battleground in the fight against the Islamic State group, which also holds significant territory in Iraq.

Kurdish forces have played a leading role in combatting the group in northern Iraq after federal security forces collapsed under the weight of an IS-led militant offensive in June that overran much of the country's Sunni Arab heartland.

Peshmerga ministry spokesman Halgord Hekmat told AFP that the decision to deploy forces into another country does not require Baghdad's approval.

"Moving the peshmerga outside the region requires a decision of Kurdistan's parliament," Hekmat said. "It does not require the approval of the Iraqi government in Baghdad."

While Iraqi Kurdistan has its own security forces, government, borders and flag, it has been reliant on Baghdad for funding.

The region's decision to independently sign contracts with foreign firms to develop its natural resources -- a move that could ultimately pave the way for independence -- has been a major point of contention with Baghdad.

The two sides are also at odds over other issues including control of a swathe of disputed northern territory.

While Iraqi Kurdistan has previously faced accusations of acting as an independent state over issues of natural resources, deploying its security forces into a foreign war goes beyond anything it has done before.

blog comments powered by Disqus