Iraq Says Turkey Backs Baghdad in Feud Over Kurd Oil Exports

Iraq Says Turkey Backs Baghdad in Feud Over Kurd Oil Exports

Iraq Says Turkey Backs Baghdad in Feud Over Kurd Oil Exports

The battle to reclaim the town was launched September 21 and involved a mix of Iraqi forces backed by American airstrikes.

Earlier in the day, Zarif attended the funeral procession of Iraqi Kurdish leader and former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani in Iraqi Kurdistan's city of Sulaymaniyah.

"We won't allow our region and our country's security to be placed in danger just because some people want to realize their childhood dream", Erdogan said.

Both countries have held military manoeuvres close to their borders with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region in recent days to ratchet up the pressure on Kurdish leaders.

While the invitation had been made prior to an independence vote held in Iraqi Kurdistan last month, President Emmanuel Macron's office on Friday issued a statement offering to help ease tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds. Erdogan, Tehran and other members of the worldwide community had censured Erbil for proceeding with the independence referendum as Iraq recovers from a three-year war against the Islamic State (ISIS). On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Turkey, Iran and Iraq were considering blockade of Kurdistan by closing its airspace and borders.

Macron's offer to mediate between the Iraqi government and the Kurds had reportedly run into resistance from the Iraqi government ahead of al-Abadi's visit because of the French president's insistence on Kurdish rights.

Iraq's prime minister says government forces have retaken the northern town of Hawija from Islamic State extremists, one of their last strongholds in Iraq.

The vote, rejected by the Iraqi central government as illegal, has put a deep strain on ties between the Kurds and central Iraqi authorities, who have cut off global flights to the region and threatened further action.

Ankara also fears Iraqi Kurdish independence would fuel secessionist demands from its own restive Kurdish minority.

This is not the first time that the umbrella organization of mainly Shi'ite militias, some of which are backed by Iran, used threatening rhetoric directed at Kurdish forces and region.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Erdogan on Wednesday, and said Iran and Turkey should prevent the Iraqi Kurds from declaring independence.

President Rouhani described Iran and Turkey as the anchors of stability in the Middle East and stressed that the two countries have made important decisions to develop economic relations and rise the trade exchange to $30 billion annually. "Turkey, Iran and Iraq's central government will do so together", said Erdogan.

Also facing the ongoing battles to evict the group from the Syrian cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zour, the Islamic State has ceded roughly 90 percent of the territory it once controlled.

The militants' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared the caliphate from Mosul in mid-2014, released an audio recording last week that indicated he was alive, after several reports he had been killed.

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