Independence vote won't be lost in vain: Barzani
The Kurdish vote for independence "won't be in vain", Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani said on Tuesday, reacting to Iraq's retaliation over the referendum vote held last month in the northern Iraq region.

Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and the Kurdish region since Sept. 25, when the people of the region -- including the disputed Kirkuk province -- voted in favor of independence.

Barzani blamed the withdrawal from Kirkuk a day earlier on "certain individuals in certain political parties." He did not acknowledge the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from parts of northern and eastern Iraq on Tuesday, Sabah Daily said.

The office of the Kurdish forces accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, archrivals of Barzani, of "treason" for colluding with central government to hand over the city.

The Kurdish military leadership says its forces will only withdraw to points held before Oct. 17, 2016, when Iraqi and Kurdish forces commenced operations to recapture the country's second largest city, Mosul, from the Islamic State (IS).

In a statement, the KRG's Ministry for Peshmerga Affairs said the "line of contact" would be determined "in accordance with agreements signed before the [Iraqi] army liberated Mosul".

"According to agreements signed by the Iraqi government and the KRG -- and guaranteed by the U.S.-led coalition authorities -- the line of contact should revert to the status enjoyed before the Mosul campaign began on Oct. 17 of last year," the statement read.

"Both sides [i.e., Baghdad and Erbil] are expected to adhere to this agreement, while a new line of contact will be decided upon in coming days," the ministry added.

But Kurdish forces have already withdrawn from Kirkuk, where they deployed in 2014, and Sinjar in northeastern Iraq, which they captured from the IS in 2015.

Reporter’s code: 50101

News Code: 17306  |  Date: 2017/10/18  |  Time: 8 : 42

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