Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Wednesday accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of not remaining committed to an agreement to withdraw their forces from disputed zones in the north of the country while the Joint Operations Command condemned military actions that hinder the spread of forces in those areas.
The Kurds have since "gone back on the accord" reached Sunday on the pullout of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from the disputed areas, notably a border post with Turkey, he told journalists.
Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces reached a deal on deploying troops north the country, especially on strategic Fish-Khabur border crossing with Turkey and Syria.
"If they do not stick to it we will do what we want, and if our forces find themselves under fire, we will show them the strength of the law," Abadi said, according to AFP.
The two sides launched a negotiation process following a ceasefire announced by Baghdad last week following fierce battles using heavy weapons and artillery and after weeks of tension, during which the Iraqi forces were able to take over many of the areas that have been controlled by the Kurds since 2014.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces are deployed in these areas pending orders to withdraw or resume fighting.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command issued a statement Thursday evening, confirming that the leadership of the Kurdistan region «and their negotiating delegation retreated completely on Tuesday evening on the draft agreed upon and negotiated by the federal team with them».
The Command accused the KRG of using the talks to “buy time” in order to strengthen Kurdish lines.
“During the negotiations, the (Kurdish) region was moving its forces and building new defenses,” the Iraqi statement said.
“We will not allow it; the federal forces are mandated to secure (the disputed) areas and borders.”
For his part, Hemin Hawrami, an adviser to Kurdish leader Massud Barzani who has stepped down, accused the central government of mounting "an escalation against Kurdistan".
"The Iraqi government has no interest in dialogue," he tweeted, warning of "the drums of war in Kurdistan”.