Militias Shell Christian Town, Large Mass Grave Found; 219 Killed in Iraq

The Kurdistan Regional Government has offered to “freeze” the results of the September 25 independence referendum in order to stave off civil war with Baghdad. The non-binding results of the referendum indicated that most of the people who voted want an independent Kurdish state. The inclusion of disputed territories in the referendum, however, particularly enraged the government in Baghdad, which then sent military forces into the disputed areas to regain control. The territories were lost to the Islamic State militants but then recovered by Kurdish forces.

Fighting between Kurdish and federal forces occurred in at least three different locations on Tuesday. Details are sketchy, and at one point the government denied some battles were taking place.

Although Iraq already reclaimed authority over the disputed territories, Baghdad also wants control of Kurdistan’s international border crossings. Apparently, an attempt was made to gain access to one at Faysh Khabur today. This crossing serves as a gateway between Iraqi Kurdistan and Kurdish controlled Syrian territory. The battle took place outside of Kurdish territory in Mahmoudiya, near Rabeaa.

Fighting between Peshmerga and Shi’ite militias also took place in Makhmour, which is within Erbil province and officially a part of Kurdistan. The militias were repelled. This comes a few days after Peshmerga troops were reported to have withdrawn from Makhmour.

It is unclear where, but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi claimed that Peshmerga members lured Iraqi soldiers into an ambush by offering joint operation of a checkpoint. Peshmerga commanders claimed that the soldiers attacked and were repulsed. They also said that Shi’ite militiamen were involved in the altercation.

A third battle erupted at the Assyrian Christian town of Tel Asqaf, which is north of Mosul, in Nineveh province. Shelling displaced 700 families. Sources fear that fighting between the Kurds and Baghdad will now destroy Tel Asqaf, one of the few Assyrian towns that survived the ISIS/Daesh invasion.

Separately, Amnesty International reported on Tuesday their findings on what appears to be ethnic cleansing in Tuz Khormato after Peshmerga forces withdrew.

At least 219 were killed or found dead and 37 were wounded:

Three Iraqi soldiers were killed in Makhmour; 12 others were wounded. One Peshmerga soldier was killed.

Shelling by Shi’ite militiamen left four civilians dead at Tal Skuf. Three children were wounded. At least two adults were wounded. Three soldiers were killed and two were wounded.

A mass grave in southern Nineveh province has yielded 170 corpses.

In Baghdad, a bomb killed one person and wounded 11 more.

One person was killed and seven were wounded by a blast in Yusufiya.

At least 24 militants were killed during an operation in Hadr.

Strikes on Rawah left seven militants dead.

Security forces killed three militants trying to enter the Makhoul Mountains.

Two important militants were killed in airstrikes on Anbar province.

Author: Margaret Griffis

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