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Kurds in Iraq Offer to Suspend Independence Effort

Peshmerga soldiers largely retreated from Kirkuk a week ago, but on Oct. 20, 2017 the armed force fought fiercely to maintain their lines outside Altun Kobri, a disputed area of northern Iraq. (H.Murdock/VOA)
Kurds in Iraq Offer to Suspend Independence Effort
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Iraqi Kurds offered on Wednesday to suspend the results of an independence vote and to start talks with the government in Baghdad.

However, an Iraqi military spokesman suggested that, regardless of talks, an offensive would continue to capture territory under Kurdish control.

The Iraqi central government declared the Kurdish referendum for independence illegal. It launched an offensive to seize the oil-producing area of Kirkuk. Kurdish forces had defeated Islamic State militants to take control of the area.

In a statement, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said, “The fighting between the two sides will not produce a victory for any, it will take the country to total destruction.”

The KRG proposed an immediate ceasefire and a suspension of the referendum result. In return, it called for “starting an open dialogue with the federal government based on the Iraqi Constitution”.

In a social media comment, an Iraqi military spokesman answered, “Military operations are not connected to politics.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi did not react to the Kurdish proposal on Wednesday. He was on an official visit to neighboring Turkey and Iran, countries that are also against the Kurdish independence vote.

Earlier, the prime minister had said the KRG should cancel the vote’s result as a condition for talks to take place. He also ordered the Iraqi army to capture all disputed territory and demanded control of Iraq’s border crossings with Turkey. All such crossings are inside the Kurdish autonomous area.

Fighting in strategic region

On Tuesday, Kurdish officials said their Peshmerga forces had stopped Iranian-supported militias near the border with Turkey and Syria.

The border area of Fish-Khabur is part of the Kurdish autonomous region. It is home to a pipeline for oil exports from northern Iraq to Turkey. Control of the area is important to any move toward Kurdish independence.

The fighting between the central Iraqi government and the Kurds presents a problem for the United States. The U.S. began providing military support and training to both sides after the war in Iraq and during the fight against Islamic State militants.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters news reports. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

regardless –adv. whether or not something else takes place, notwithstanding

referendum –n. a popular vote on a single issue or question

dialogue –n. talks, a series of discussions meant to end a disagreement

autonomous –adj. having powers of self-rule