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Abadi halts movement of Iraqi forces toward Kurdistan Region

Troop movement paused for 24 hours as Coalition spokesperson says surveillance assets monitoring northern Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday ordered Iraqi troops to pause their advance toward the Kurdistan Region.

In a statement, Abadi’s office said he ordered a stop to the forces’ movement for 24 hours to “allow a joint technical team to work on the deployment of federal forces on the [Iraqi] border and in disputed areas without bloodshed.”

It is the latest move in the fallout from the Kurdistan independence referendum held on September 25. Iraqi troops and the allied Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) militias had been pushing toward the autonomous Kurdistan Region this week following a series of clashes in disputed regions after last month’s vote.

Federal and paramilitary troops had also advanced on the Fishkhabur border crossing with Turkey and Syria, a critical point for the U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State to resupply its partners in the region that lies firmly within Kurd-controlled territory.

Coalition surveillance assets monitoring Iraq

Earlier, the Coalition said the dispute had negatively impacted the counter-ISIS fight, hindering the movement of coalition military equipment in both Iraq and Syria.

“We have also allocated surveillance assets to monitor what is happening in northern Iraq since we do not have advisors on the ground. Those assets would otherwise be used elsewhere for the defeat-ISIS mission,” Coalition spokesperson Colonel Ryan Dillon told The Defense Post on Friday.

Abadi on Thursday rejected the KRG’s offer to “freeze” the results of the referendum in exchange for a ceasefire.

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