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Live: Investigation launched into fatal clashes between Peshmerga, Iraqi Army

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Bas News, a media outlet known for its close ties to Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and its hardline stance, has reported the detention of two of its journalists by security forces in Sulaymaniyah province. According to the website, reporter Imad Bilal was detained on Sunday, while columnist Jamal Abdulla was apprehended the following day, Monday.

Bas News frequently publishes reports that are critical of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the party controlling the security forces in Sulaymaniyah province.

As of now, there have been no reports on these arrests from media outlets based in Sulaymaniyah.
In case you missed it, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III addressed the increasing pressure on U.S. forces in the Middle East in a statement published on Saturday:

Following detailed discussions with President Biden on recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East Region, today I directed a series of additional steps to further strengthen the Department of Defense posture in the region. These steps will bolster regional deterrence efforts, increase force protection for U.S. forces in the region, and assist in the defense of Israel.

First, I redirected the movement of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to the Central Command area of responsibility. This carrier strike group is in addition to the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which is currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It will further increase our force posture and strengthen our capabilities and ability to respond to a range of contingencies. 

I have also activated the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as well as additional Patriot battalions to locations throughout the region to increase force protection for U.S. forces.

Finally, I have placed an additional number of forces on prepare to deploy orders as part of prudent contingency planning, to increase their readiness and ability to quickly respond as required. 

I will continue to assess our force posture requirements in the region and consider deploying additional capabilities as necessary.
KDP leader Massoud Barzani contacts the families of the two Peshmerga members who were killed on Sunday.

According to, the official media arm of the party, Barzani spoke over the phone with the bereaved families to extend his condolences.

Barzani has not yet made any public comments regarding the incident that led to the deaths.
ڕۆژی دووشەممە 23ی تشرینی یەكەمی 2023 سەرۆك مەسعود بارزانی لەڕێی تەلەفۆنەوە پەیوەندی بە خانەوادەی هەردوو شەهید، شەهید عەقید قەهار جەوهەر قەهار و شەهید هاوڕێ جەوهەر ڕەحمان كرد و سەرەخۆشی و هاوخەمی قووڵی خۆی پێ ڕاگەیاندن.
Qatar-funded Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on Sunday that the Iraqi PM Sudani is spearheading efforts to halt attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, reaching out to the pro-Iran Coordination Framework leaders.

The report, citing an unnamed adviser to the Prime Minister, stated that Sudani has been in contact with both the leaders of the Coordination Framework and commanders of certain armed factions to prevent further escalation against U.S. forces in Iraq.
"Sudani has conveyed to the leaders of the framework and pro-Iran factions the risks of escalating tensions, the potential impact on the stability of his government, and the possibility of losing U.S. support—especially as he awaits a confirmed date for his White House visit, which could be jeopardized by these attacks," the source informed website.

Sudani also relayed a "clear U.S. message" that any injuries or damages incurred from such strikes would elicit a "firm military response" from the U.S., potentially leading to a new phase of military escalation between the U.S. and militant factions.

The report also cited a high-ranking leader from the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) militia as saying that Sudani is anticipated to convene an undisclosed meeting with the Coordination Framework. This meeting, expected to include most of the faction leaders, will discuss the rising tensions against U.S. forces and the broader implications for Iraq.
حصل "العربي الجديد" على معلومات من مصادر عراقية عن حراك يقوده رئيس الوزراء محمد شياع السوداني، من أجل وقف سلسلة الهجمات التي تنفذها الفصائل المسلحة القريبة من إيران منذ أيام عدة ضد قواعد عسكرية توجد بها قوات أميركية.
العربي الجديد
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a "successful" drone strike on the U.S. al-Malikiyya base in Syria, stating that they directly hit their intended targets. The announcement was made via an official statement, but independent confirmation has yet to be obtained.

Meanwhile, Harir Airbase in Erbil and Assad Airbase in Western Iraq were targetted in new attacks this Sunday, following a recent spate of drone strikes.

Since the onset of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there have been multiple attacks targeting U.S. forces in Iraq. 

This comes as the Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) issued a threat to target U.S. bases in Iraq and the surrounding region if U.S. troops were to intervene in the Gaza conflict.
🔺بيان صادر عن المقاومة الاسلامية في العراق : بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ صدق الله العلي العظيم استهدف مجاهدو المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق، قاعدة "المالكية" التابعة للاحتلال الأمريكي، في سوريا، بواسطة طائرة مسيّرة، وأصابت هدفها بشكل مباشر. المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق الاثنين ٧- ربيع الآخر -١٤٤٥ هـ
In a phone call on Sunday, Iraqi PM Sudani and French President Emmanuel Macron have jointly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the opening of border crossings to enable the flow of humanitarian aid, according to the PM’s media office.

Here is the full statement from the PM’s office:

Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani led a meeting focused on advancing the implementation of the Treasury Single Account and monitoring electronic payment systems, POS. The meeting included the Minister of Finance, the Central Bank Governor, the Head of the Federal Board of Supreme Audit, and several advisors and general managers from government banks.

During the meeting, there was a review and assessment of the Treasury Single Account's implementation progress, an evaluation of the electronic card payment system's rollout, and a discussion about the challenges that public and private sector organizations, as well as electronic payment companies, are encountering.

The meeting also examined the support and incentives that could be offered to citizens and employing organizations to stimulate their business. They discussed the broader actions taken, progress rates, and essential prerequisites for completion. The Prime Minister emphasized the crucial importance of prioritizing the objective of incentivizing the government sector and identifying entities that might be falling behind because of negligence.

The meeting endorsed a report containing several recommendations, which are prepared to be presented to the Council of Ministers for consideration. Prime Minister Al-Sudani also instructed the activation of the Payments Department at the Central Bank of Iraq and emphasized the necessity of delivering a comprehensive report on the accomplishments for presentation at an upcoming Council of Ministers meeting.

To expedite the completion of the Treasury Single Account, the Prime Minister issued directives to all ministries to adhere to the fourth paragraph of Cabinet Resolution (3581 of 2023). He stressed the urgency of promptly forming committees and analyzing non-active bank accounts associated with each ministry, with a timeframe of one month for completion.


State Administration Coalition to hold key meeting amid U.S. staff withdrawal

An "important" meeting of the members of the ruling State Administration Coalition is scheduled to take place later on Monday at the residence of Nouri al-Maliki, the leader of the Rule of Law Coalition, according to an inside source speaking to Shafaq News website.  

The meeting aims to discuss "the latest political and security developments in Iraq," along with "the U.S. State Department statement and the implications of this statement on the Iraqi internal affairs."
شفق نيوز/ قال مصدر مطلع، إن ائتلاف ادارة الدولة سيعقد اجتماعاً "مهماً" في منزل رئيس ائتلاف دولة القانون نوري المالكي مساء اليوم الإثنين. وأضاف المصدر، في حديث لوكالة شفق نيوز، أن "المجتمعين سيناقشون
شفق نيوز
The Kurdish Service of Voice of America quoted a source from the Peshmerga Ministry, who attributed the recent clashes between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army in Makhmour to the latter's uncoordinated return to positions previously evacuated by the PKK.

The source elaborated, "We have an agreement with the Iraqi army that if the Iraqi army comes to places of mutual interest, they should not come without an agreement. For example, we have a joint operations room with the Iraqi forces in Diyala, Makhmur, and Mosul. If there had been a movement, they would have done it without coordination, so this war has happened."
لە یەکەم لێدوانی وەزارەتی پێشمەرگەدا سەبارەت بە شەڕەکەی ئێوارەی ڕۆژی یەکشەممەی نێوان هێزی پێشمەرگە و سوپای عێراق لە ناوچەی مەخموور و چیای قەرەچووغ، سەرچاوەیەکی باڵا لەو وەزارەتە بە دەنگی ئەمەریکای ڕاگەیاند، شەڕەکە بەهۆی جووڵەی هێزەکانی سوپای عێراقەوە بووە، بۆ چەند ناوچەیەک کە پێشتر گەریلاکانی...
دەنگی ئەمەریکا | Dengî Amerîka | VOA Kurdish

Baghdad says attacks on coalition forces are unacceptable

Baghdad has finally spoken out against attacking the bases of the coalition forces.

Yehia Rasool, spokesman for the Commander -in -Chief of the Armed Forces, says in a statement that “the attacks that target Iraqi bases that house advisers from the international coalition in Iraq are unacceptable. They are here based on the invitation of the government to support, train, and advise our security forces.”

It adds: “Their work is regulated by the Iraqi government and the understandings that Iraqi diplomats have signed. Therefore, the security and the safety of these facilities are a redline. Breaches to the security and safety cannot be tolerated.

The Commander -in -Chief of the Armed Forces directed all the security services to carry out their duties, enforce the law, pursue the elements responsible for these attacks, and maintain the security and stability achieved thanks to the great sacrifices of all the formations of our armed forces.”
The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Iraq this Sunday, corroborating earlier reports about the "departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members." 
The advisory elevates Iraq's travel risk to the highest level, cautioning against travel due to factors such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, and civil unrest.

The statement specifies: "On October 20, 2023, the Department ordered the departure of eligible family members and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Consulate General Erbil due to increased security threats against U.S. government personnel and interests."

Additionally, the advisory warns against travel near Iraq's northern borders, citing threats like "attacks by terrorist groups, armed conflict, aerial bombardment, and civil unrest." It urges U.S. citizens to particularly avoid areas close to armed groups in northern Iraq, which are subject to aerial strikes from neighboring countries.

The advisory concludes by emphasizing the heightened risks faced by U.S. citizens in Iraq, including the possibilities of violence and kidnapping. It notes that attacks involving improvised explosive devices, indirect fire, and unmanned aerial vehicles are common throughout the country. The statement also mentions that the U.S. government's ability to provide emergency consular services is limited due to severe movement restrictions on its personnel.
Updated to reflect the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members.
The meeting between KRI President Nechirvan Barzani and U.S. Consul General Mark Stroh comes amid reports that the U.S. is evacuating non-essential staff from both Erbil and Baghdad.

London-based Amwaj Media reported on Sunday that non-essential personnel are being evacuated from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil, with relocation efforts directed towards Jordan.

According to the website, Blackhawk helicopters have been moving staff from Baghdad's Green Zone to the international airport, from where multiple flights have departed for Amman.

Similar personnel changes have been noted at the U.S. consulate in Erbil.
Update: The US State Department on Oct. 22 said it had on Oct. 20 ordered the departure of "eligible family members and non-emergency US government personnel from US Embassy Baghdad and US Consulate General Erbil." The reason for the order was described as "increased security threats against US government personnel and interests." The story: The US is evacuating some personnel from its embassy in Baghdad, has learned, apparently shifting them to neighboring Jordan. Blackhawk helicopters have since Oct. 21 been transferring staff from the Green Zone to Baghdad International Airport, with multiple flights to Amman departing over the past 24 hours. Informed sources have indicated that the individuals being evacuated from the Iraqi capital are non-essential personnel, with some changes at the Erbil consulate too. The US State Department did not provide comment to at the time of publishing. The evacuation follows a surge in attacks on US forces in Iraq in recent days, apparently triggered by the Hamas-Israel war. Amid indications that an Israeli...
KRI President Nechirvan Barzani and U.S. Consul General Mark Stroh discuss security coordination between Erbil and Baghdad. 

The two men also talked about recent attacks on bases housing U.S.-led coalition forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

"Both leaders expressed concerns over the potential for escalating tensions and the ensuing consequences in the Middle East. They emphasized the importance of safeguarding coalition forces and diplomatic envoys in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Further, they stressed the need for continued security cooperation between the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga to maintain regional peace and stability."

The meeting takes place against a backdrop of rising tensions and security challenges facing the coalition forces. Coalition bases in Iraq have recently come under drone attacks, coinciding with an escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas. Pressure on U.S. troops in Iraq is mounting as pro-Iran Iraqi Shia armed groups voicing strong criticism of Israel's counterstrikes in Gaza. Jaafar al-Husseini, the military spokesman for the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, has recently declared a new phase of conflict targeting American bases, further highlighting the fraught security situation.
Pro-PKK websites also attribute the recent clashes between the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga forces to disputes over areas that the PKK fighters had previously vacated.

Roj News quotes local commander Faisal Ghazi, who indicates that the PKK withdrew from these areas in accordance with a prior agreement with Baghdad. The report said that the KDP has opposed this agreement and has clashed with the Iraqi Army, allegedly capturing one of their positions.

ناوەندی هەواڵەکانکەمێک پێش ئێستا لە چیای قەرەچۆخ، شەڕ لە نێوان چەکدارانی پەدەکە و سوپای عێراق ڕوویدا و برینداری لێکەوتووەتەوە.شەڕ و پێکدادان لە نێوان چەکدارانی پەدەکە و سوپای عێراق ڕویدا و بریندار و کوژراو هەیە، هۆکاری شەرەکەش لەسەر جێگاکانی گەریلایە
کوردی - RojNews.News
The reports indicating that the KDP forces had wanted to take control of the PKK positions appear to be accurate.

Prior to the clashes between Peshmerga and Iraqi Army forces, the pro-KDP news outlet Kurdistan 24 reported that the transfer of PKK bases near Makhmour camp and Qarachokh mountain to the Iraqi Army has "created an opportunity for the Iraqi forces to expand their positions opposite the Peshmerga."

The report stated that the vacated PKK positions should have been jointly controlled by Iraqi and Peshmerga forces. Instead, these positions are now fully under the control of the Iraqi Army, which poses challenges for the Peshmerga.

A security source familiar with the situation in Makhmour was cited, revealing that PKK fighters had transferred control of several caves and seven strategic points around the camp to the Iraqi forces. This transfer was premeditated and planned months in advance, and the Iraqi Army is looking to gain control of additional locations.

Furthermore, the report claimed that the PKK is unwilling to collaborate with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a stance that would benefit those opposed to the Kurdistan Region.

Current relations between the KDP and PKK are strained. The KDP is aiding Ankara in military actions against PKK bases and fighters in the Kurdistan region. The KDP accuses the PKK of using the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) as a launching pad for attacks against Turkey and has frequently called on PKK fighters to leave the region.
Here is the full translated statement issued by the Peshmerga ministry on the incident:

On Sunday, October 22, 2023, a regrettable event transpired in the Makhmur area, leading to casualties and injuries on both sides.

The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs reaffirmed “its dedication to collaborating with the federal government to enact a comprehensive and lasting solution for security and stability across Iraq.”

Concurrently, the ministry endorses the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces' “call for an immediate and transparent inquiry into the event to ascertain its causes and identify effective measures for regional security and stability.”

The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs has confirmed the loss of two members in Sunday's confrontations with the Iraqi Army. 

In a statement released today, the ministry expressed deep sorrow over the deaths, stating: "It is with profound sadness that we learned of the martyrdom of two valiant members of our 18th Infantry Brigade: Colonel Qahar Jewhar Qahar, commander of the 1st Battalion, and Comrade Jewhar Rahman."
Here is the full translated statement issued by the spokesperson for the Iraqi PM Muhammed Shia al-Sudani on Sunday:

The Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces followed up on the incident that occurred today, Sunday, within the Makhmour sector, which led to three casualties and the injury of seven others from both sides near one of the security checkpoints.

Accordingly, His Excellency directed the formation of a high-level committee to investigate the circumstances of the incident and ascertain its details.

He emphasized to all commanders and officers at all levels the importance of exercising self-restraint, whether from federal government units or the Peshmerga.

He emphasized to leaders and commanders at all levels the importance of self-restraint, whether by the federal government or the Peshmerga. He also stressed the need for wise action, prioritizing higher interests, strengthening common ground, and denying opportunities to the enemies of Iraq which would send a message to the entire world about the unity of Iraq's proud people.

Good morning.

Let's dive right in.

In the wake of fatal clashes between Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi Army near Makhmour, southwest of Erbil province, the Iraqi Prime Minister has formed a high-level committee to investigate the incident. Yahia Rasool, the spokesperson for the Iraqi commander-in-chief, stated that three people have been killed and seven others injured. Local media reported that the death toll could be higher, as a Peshmerga lieutenant colonel succumbed to his wounds.

The Iraqi government has issued a statement urging all commanders to exercise self-restraint and act wisely.

Similarly, the Peshmerga Ministry released a statement affirming its coordination with the Iraqi Army and expressing support for the newly launched investigation into the clashes.

The confrontations occurred following the evacuation of positions previously held by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants near the Makhmour refugee camp. These positions were handed over to the Iraqi Army last Saturday. Reports suggest that forces from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) attempted to retake these positions, thereby triggering the clashes.