Tensions between Peshmerga and Iraqi army at jointly controlled checkpoint

A road between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad in Diyala province

Layla Ahmad

Tensions rose between personnel of a checkpoint jointly guarded by Peshmerga Forces and Iraqi army units and both sides fired in the air, after a number of trucks heading towards the Kurdistan Region were denied passage.

The incident took place on the evening of Monday (30 December) when a truck tries to pass through a checkpoint near Karéza village in Kifri district (in Slémani province), but gets blocked by Iraqi army soldiers who fire in the air, and the Peshmerga members also fir in the air in return.

A source from Peshmerga Forces’ Unit 70 (which is under PUK command), told KirkukNow: “The source of the issue is that the Iraqi army has been blocking passage of trucks as well as some civilian cars. At four o’clock, they once again closed the checkpoint and people started shouting and complaining. At that time, a truck tried to pass and the Iraqi army [soldiers] started shooting and we answered by shooting.”

The source of the issue is that the Iraqi army has been blocking passage of trucks as well as some civilian cars

The Karéza Checkpoint is being jointly controlled by the Iraqi army units and Peshmerga and KRG Asaiysh (security) units.

The shooting escalates the situation and tensions rise, as the source added, “Things almost got out of control. Later, a preliminary resolution for the issue was found and it was decided that next Saturday both sides would sit down to converse and resolve the issue fundamentally.”

The trucks that pass through that checkpoint, are going to Slémani and transfer mostly loads of iron and scrap iron.

Usman Hasan, commander of the Peshmerga unit that is stationed at the checkpoint, said: “This is the second time problems occur at that checkpoint. I have instructed every Peshmerga member to not fire and to not obstruct citizens in any way. The Iraqi army black passage of citizens and trucks; they are creating problems, leading to unrest.”

He added: “Iraqi forces and KRG Asaiysh have made agreements to not allow trucks to pass through that checkpoint. We as Peshmerga have no issues [with letting trucks pass] at all. As far as we are aware, sometimes trucks are allowed to pass if they pay money; they take levies, and that is the source of the problem.”

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