Iraqi forces accused of burning Kurdish homes and ministries in Kirkuk

#KurdishVote

KRG produces photographs of apparent attacks on buildings, including the Ministry of Martyrs and residential homes

A home burning in Kirkuk (supplied)
Alex MacDonald's picture
Last update: 
Wednesday 18 October 2017 13:58 UTC
Topics: 

Shia paramilitary groups have been accused by Kurdish authorities of arson and looting of Kurdish homes in areas retaken by Iraqi forces on Monday and Tuesday.

Photographs sent to Middle East Eye by Kurdish Regional Government representatives appear to show homes looted and burned in Kirkuk after the Iraqi army and the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) retook the city from Kurdish peshmerga.



A bazaar in Kirkuk burnt out by the PMUs (supplied)

The Kurdish government has accused the PMUs of engaging in arson, kidnappings and gang rape as they bring the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk back under their sway.

Another photo showed the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs burned out.

The photographers have kept their identity hidden for fear of reprisals from the PMUs.

Kurdistan 24 reported reprisals against KRG buildings and supportive parties in the city.

The Turkmen People's Party, a pro-KRG Turkmen party, told the news site that one of the PMUs had ransacked their offices.

“The militiamen of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which is an armed group within the Hashd al-Shaabi, stormed and looted the house of the secretary-general of the Turkmen People’s Party, Irfan Kirkukli, and its party offices in Kirkuk,” said Mohammed Kirkukli.

"The militia group has written sectarian slogans and names on our office walls and claimed the buildings as their own."

A photograph released on social media showed the name of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq scrawled on the walls of the building:



On Wednesday, Iraqi government forces said they had achieved their objectives in retaking the northern province of Kirkuk and its lucrative oil fields, as well as formerly Kurdish-held areas of Nineveh and Diyala provinces.

The largely bloodless operation dealt a body blow to the finances of the autonomous Kurdish region, which had derived much of its revenues from exports of Kirkuk oil, and left Kurds in shock and disbelief just weeks after the nationalist fervour of the referendum.

Kurdish claims to the lost territories have long been a cherished national cause and their abandonment - almost without a fight - triggered recriminations against the Kurdish leadership.

Kurdish forces are now largely confined to their longstanding three-province autonomous region in the north and have lost nearly all of the territory they had taken since the US-led invasion of 2003, some of it in deadly fighting with the Islamic State group.

"Security has been restored in sectors of Kirkuk, including Dibis, Al-Multaqa, and the Khabbaz and Bai Hassan North and South oil fields," the federal government's Joint Operations Command said.

"Forces have been redeployed and have retaken control of Khanaqin and Jalawla in Diyala province, as well as Makhmur, Bashiqa, Mosul dam, Sinjar and other areas in the Nineveh plains."



Photo appearing to show fire started by the PMUs (supplied)

Kurdish claims to the lost territories have long been a cherished national cause and their abandonment - almost without a fight - triggered recriminations against the Kurdish leadership.

Kurdish forces are now largely confined to their longstanding three-province autonomous region in the north and have lost nearly all of the territory they had taken since the US-led invasion of 2003, some of it in deadly fighting with the Islamic State group.

"Security has been restored in sectors of Kirkuk, including Dibis, Al-Multaqa, and the Khabbaz and Bai Hassan North and South oil fields," the federal government's Joint Operations Command said.

"Forces have been redeployed and have retaken control of Khanaqin and Jalawla in Diyala province, as well as Makhmur, Bashiqa, Mosul dam, Sinjar and other areas in the Nineveh plains."

French geographer and Kurdistan specialist Cyril Roussel said that in the space of 48 hours, virtually all of the disputed territories held by Kurds had been brought back under federal control.

.



A Kurdish government building burnt out in Kirkuk (supplied)

"The Kurds have lost almost all of the 23,000 square kilometres that they had acquired since 2003," Roussel told AFP. 

"All that remains in their hands is between 5,000 and 6,000 square kilometres in Nineveh province and the Kupri district of Kirkuk province.

"That's virtually a return to the Green Line - that is the three provinces of autonomous Kurdistan."

Joint Operations Command spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool hinted that federal forces could yet be deployed to the remaining pockets of disputed territory still in Kurdish hands.

"It's not a military operation but the redeployment of forces to all areas to enforce the law," Rasool told AFP. "Further communiques will follow."

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that the 25 September vote for Kurdish independence was now "a thing of the past".

"Central authority must be imposed everywhere in Iraq," he said.

Additional reporting by AFP