BAGHDAD, Aug. 19 (UPI) — The Kurdish government is rejecting calls from the Iraqi government for the Peshmerga to stop advancing towards the city of Mosul in the battle against the Islamic State.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged the Peshmerga to stop its advancement in the Nineveh province amid accusations the Kurdish forces are attempting to seize land under the pretext of defeating the Islamic State with the goal of later declaring independence.
“The Peshmerga should stay where they are now, and they should not expand their presence even if they help the Iraqi Army,” Abadi said Wednesday.
Kurdish government spokesman Safeen Dizayee quickly rejected Abadi’s call.
“The Peshmerga will continue their advances and will not retreat from the areas they have recently liberated from the Islamic State in Mosul,” Dizayee said.
On Thursday, Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri praised the Peshmerga’s efforts against the Islamic State.
“The Peshmerga participation in the Mosul battle will add a big military weight to other efforts and should be appreciated,” Jbouri said in a statement.
Iraqi Security Forces launched an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State in March, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. Mosul is considered one of the most important battles in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq. U.S. President Barack Obama said he expects the city of Mosul to be retaken by the Iraqi government by the end of the year.