Wed Nov 16, 2016 06:47PM
Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani speaks to the media during his visit to Bashiqa, Iraq, on November 16, 2016. (Photos by Reuters)
Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani speaks to the media during his visit to Bashiqa, Iraq, on November 16, 2016. (Photos by Reuters)

The president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region says the Kurdish Peshmerga forces will not withdraw from the regions recaptured from Daesh terrorists in Iraq.

Speaking in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa on Wednesday, Masoud Barzani told the Kurdish Rudaw TV that the Peshmerga troops “will not retreat from areas retaken" based on an agreement with Washington and the central government in Baghdad.

The deal stipulates that “the defense lines before the Mosul operation are non-negotiable,” Barzani said.

“Our only goal is to protect the security of people in these areas and for the Peshmerga to back it. We will never ever again let you be displaced and you can count on us for that,” he noted in comments directed at Iraqi Kurds.

Since October 17, the Iraqi army, volunteer Shia and Sunni fighters as well as Peshmerga forces have been engaged in an offensive to liberate the northern city of Mosul, the last Daesh bastion in the country.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Kurdish leader stressed that “almost all Kurdish areas” have been purged of Daesh elements.

Although Daesh is in retreat in Mosul and is facing defeat in Iraq, Kurdish forces should maintain their readiness to counter threats, he added.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces walk in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from Daesh terrorists, on November 10, 2016. 

“We cannot say Daesh is gone and let’s relax now. This kind of challenge and threat will always be there. Therefore, we should… organize ourselves, upgrade our weapons, improve our training and be ready for any threat,” he said.

Last week, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Iraq’s Kurdish security forces of having illegally destroyed Arab homes in northern Iraq over the past two years in what may amount to a war crime.

The report cited the obliteration of homes across 21 towns and villages in Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces between September 2014 and May 2016.

Referring to the report, Brazani emphasized that the Kurdish forces only target enemies regardless of their ethnicity.

“Those who were with Daesh and supported it, are our enemy, whether they are Kurds, Arabs or Turkmen, and we will treat them the same as Daesh. That is our policy and let organizations that are concerned with human rights know that,” he said.