Conflict between Baghdad, Erbil over US Forces in Kirkuk

 Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
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Conflict between Baghdad, Erbil over US Forces in Kirkuk

 Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
Iraqi forces seizes the Kirkuk airport on the outskirts of the city on Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Iraqi forces denied, on Thursday, claims made by officials in Kurdistan, Iraq, regarding the arrival of US forces to the disputed Kirkuk. Erbil, however, insisted on the announcement.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement, Thursday, that some media outlets talked about the advance of US forces in Kirkuk, reporting sources from Kurdistan, Iraq. Yet, the command denied the news and affirmed that there is no increase of the coalition forces not in Kirkuk nor in the rest of Iraqi territories.

The statement, which was posted on Facebook, stressed that it is not the foreign forces mission to seize the territory, and they don’t even have the possibility to do so in terms of soldiers and equipment.

“Kirkuk security is an Iraqi national responsibility,” clarified the statement.

Kurdish counter-terrorism forces sources reported that US army forces are advancing to Kirkuk in order to form a joint operations chamber that is entitled to coordinate and cooperate with the Iraqi Army to ensure Kirkuk's security.

Jalal Sheikh Naji, officer at counter-terrorism forces in Sulaimaniyah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the purpose behind recruiting these forces is to reinforce intelligence and security cooperation among the US forces, Iraqi Army and counter-terrorism bodies in order to protect the security condition in Kirkuk.”

He added that there are suspicious movements in the region, requiring more security vigilance.

“The presence of US forces will solidify internal security in Kirkuk, and the region in general,” he continued.

Naji pointed out that as the US army spreads in the camp, a joint operations chamber will be formed to serve intelligence and security coordination that would be quite helpful in confronting terrorists in case they dare to return and threaten the region.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.