by Al Jazeera
Iraq’s prime minister has ordered a temporary halt to a military operation in the country’s north aimed at wresting back territory held by Kurdish security forces.
In a statement on Friday, Haider al-Abadi ordered government forces to suspend their operations for 24 hours to enable the deployment of other forces in coordination with Kurdish forces in the disputed areas and along the country’s borders.
The suspension of the movement of troops will allow a technical team from the two sides to jointly work for the deployment, al-Abadi said.
“This is aimed at preventing a showdown and bloodshed between people of the same country.”
Al-Abadi’s decision came a day after government forces and Kurdish forces clashed near the northern city of Mosul.
Last week, Iraqi forces retook the oil-rich region of Kirkuk, which had been held by the Kurds since the Iraqi army fled from advancing ISIL fighters in 2014.
The show of force came after the secession referendum of September 25, in which 92 percent of Kurds supported independence from Iraq, prompting tension between the two sides.
Ceasefire claim retracted
Earlier on Friday, the US-led coalition battling ISIL, (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS), said Iraqi and Kurdish forces must focus on dialogue and reducing internal tensions in order to combat a larger enemy.
“We are encouraging dialogue. We’re trying to get the tensions down and to refocus our efforts on defeating ISIS,” Colonel Ryan Dillon, coalition spokesperson, told Rudaw, a news agency in the Iraqi Kurdish region, in a video interview.
“What we are encouraging is dialogue and trying to get the right people to the table.”
Dillon said in the interview that there was a “ceasefire” between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, but he later retracted those remarks, noting on Twitter that while both parties had been talking, it was “not an official ‘ceasefire'”.
The primary goal is to prevent the resurgence of ISIL, Dillon said.
“They thrive on instability and discord between groups, and we cannot let them resurface. We’ve got to cut the head off of that snake and prevent them from coming back,” he said.