Iraq orders 24 hour halt to military action against Kurds

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi ordered a 24-hour suspension to military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, his office said in a statement today.

The truce is meant to allow the deployment of Iraqi authorities at border crossings held by Kurdish forces in agreement with the Kurdistan regional authorities, it said.

Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters reached an agreement earlier today to stop fighting in northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said.

A spokesman in Baghdad for the US-led coalition against Daesh earlier said the deal covered all fronts in the conflict, which broke out after Kurdish authorities held an independence referendum last month in areas of northern Iraq.

However, he later told Reuters that the truce had not been officially agreed, while an Iraqi military spokesman declined to comment.

According to the KRG, which is based in the Kurdish autonomous region’s capital of Erbil, the ceasefire entered effect at 1am today (22:00 GMT yesterday).

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“The ceasefire is holding,” Vahal Ali, the director of KRG President Masoud Barzani’s media office, told Reuters. “Diplomatic efforts are underway to set a date for talks to start between Erbil and Baghdad.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi urging for dialogue to start, the Iraqi central government said in a statement.

Yesterday Al-Abadi demanded the Kurds declare their referendum void, rejecting the KRG offer to suspend its independence push to resolve a crisis through talks. “We won’t accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the Constitution,” he said in a statement during a visit to Iran.

The KRG proposed on Wednesday an immediate ceasefire, a suspension of the referendum result and “starting an open dialogue with the federal government based on the Iraqi Constitution”.

The fall of Kirkuk was a major blow to the Kurdish drive for independence championed by Barzani, as it halved the region’s oil export revenue.

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