Civilian Casualties in Battle at Kurdish Border; 67 Killed in Iraq

Peshmerga forces fought to hold their ground in the city of Altun Kupri (Pirde), which lies about 30 miles south of Erbil, just outside official Kurdistan. Shots were fired over the shared border between Kurdistan and Iraq. In the end, Peshmerga troops were overwhelmed and forced to withdraw.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council (K.R.S.C.) condemned what it called the “deafening silence” coming from the international community over the Iran-backed attack by Iraqi forces. Although the Shi’ite militias said they had been ordered by Baghdad not to cross the border, the council believes the militiamen planned to move as far north as Qushtapa, which is well within official Kurdistan territory.

The council also claimed that U.S. weapons were being used to attack the Peshmerga forces. Kurdish protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Erbil to ask for support.

The U.S. State Department said it was concerned and had asked Baghdad to limit troop movements within the disputed areas to only those coordinated with the Kurdistan Regional Government. It did concede that these contested territories do not necessarily belong to Iraq. They may yet return to Kurdistan authority, but their status must be decided in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution. Also, four members of the U.S. Congress called on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to broker an end to the hostilities. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani instructed the federal government to protect the Kurds, amid reports of abuses.

Peshmerga forces lost six personnel and claimed to have killed or injured over 150 among Iraqi forces during the battle at Altun Kupri. A Kurdish general was also killed. Two journalists were wounded; one of them is Belgian.

Also, Iraqi forces captured the Ain Zalah and Batma oil fields near Mosul.

Meanwhile the bickering over who is to blame for losing control of the disputed territories continues between the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. In any case, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani played a role.

At least 67 were killed and 21 were wounded in recent violence:

At least six Peshmerga were killed during a battle in Altun Kupri. A Kurdish general was also killed.  Two journalists were wounded while covering the battle. An Associated Press reporter at a local hospital counted six dead civilians and 15 wounded.

A civilian was shot dead in Mosul.

In Zab, a militiaman was killed.

Mortar fire wounded two civilians in Dibis.

In Baghdad, a bomb wounded two people.

Turkish airstrikes targeting suspect Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) sites killed nine people.

Airstrikes killed 40 militants in Qaim. Militants executed three of their own members for trying to flee.

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Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has
been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.