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Iraqi court issues arrest warrant for Kurdish vice president Kosrat Rasul

A Baghdad Court Has Issued An Arrest Warrant For The Vice President Of Iraq's Autonomous Northern Kurdish Region For Saying That Iraqi Forces Had 'occupied' The Disputed Province Of Kirkuk This Week.

PTI | Updated on: 20 Oct 2017, 12:05:43 PM
Iraqi court issues arrest warrant for Kurdish vice president Kosrat Rasul

Kirkuk (Iraq):

A Baghdad court has issued an arrest warrant for the vice president of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region for saying that Iraqi forces had "occupied" the disputed province of Kirkuk this week.

However, the warrant against Kosrat Rasul is unlikely to be executed as the central government in Baghdad has no enforceable authority in the Kurdish-administered north.

The court accused Rasul of "insulting" Iraq's armed forces, which is forbidden by Iraqi law.

On Monday, Iraq's federal forces, supported by Iranian-sponsored militias, rolled into the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, forcing Kurdish militias, known as the peshmerga, to withdraw after brief clashes.

The Kurds took over the city in 2014 when Iraq's army melted away ahead of the Islamic State's blitz across northern and western Iraq.

IS has since seen its hold on Iraq and north Syria crumble in the face of relentless air strikes by the US-led coalition and an array of forces battling it on the ground. At its peak it held a third of both countries.

In Kirkuk, residents were coming to terms on Thursday with the handover of the city back to Baghdad authorities. Many felt the two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties had betrayed their people and had ordered the peshmerga to pull back with hardlya fight.

Jumaa Khalaf said she felt "humiliated" by the two parties over the withdrawal.

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"They trampled on the dignity of the peshmerga", she said.

Many Kurds are wary of the Shiite-led militias that helped Iraqi forces retake the city. The Popular Mobilisation Forces, as they are known, are predominantly Shiite and backed by Iran, and seen by Kurds as agents of Arab- and Shiite-first policy.

PMF commanders held a press conference from the centre of Kirkuk on Wednesday, despite orders from Baghdad not to enter the city, further provoking fears of ethnic strife.

Associated Press reporters on Tursday saw only a handful of PMF vehicles among a dominantly federal police and security presence inside Kirkuk.

The city felt calm, apart from sporadic reports of looting. The UN said more than 60,000 people fled the city on Monday, fearing clashes and leaving homes empty and unguarded. Later, thousands returned.

Another Kurdish resident, Hassan Anwar, said he was disturbed to see photos of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani burned in the city. "I feel like it's my father's photo that's been burnt", he said.

The Kurds make up a portion of the multi-ethnic Kirkuk's 1.2 million residents, living among Arabs and Turkmen.

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First Published : 20 Oct 2017, 12:04:15 PM