HPG statement on Kirkuk incidents

HPG Makhmour - Kirkuk Command released a statement regarding the events in Kirkuk which was fully invaded by Hashd al-Shaabi militia and Iraqi army on Monday.

HPG Makhmour - Kirkuk Command released a statement regarding the events in Kirkuk that involved guerrilla forces who rushed to the city and formed a defense line against the onslaught by Hashd al-Shaabi militia and Iraqi army on Monday.

The full statement by HPG Makhmour - Kirkuk Command is as follows;

"From the night hours of October 16, the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi forces launched an invasion operation against Kirkuk city centre and surroundings. Our guerrilla forces took defensive position in the wake of these attacks. Sporadic clashes took place between our forces and the Iraqi army, Hashd al-Shaabi following the withdrawal of the Peshmergas. This process which continued into the morning of October 17 is as following;

With the action of the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi forces, peshmerga forces left all positions firstly around the city and then in city centre starting from morning hours. Normally, a joint coordination should have been established to protect a city under threat. However, the peshmerga forces have not shared anything with us on this issue. When Peshmerga forces retreated unbeknownst to our forces, our forces arrived the city centre to protect the peoples of Kirkuk. When the people of Kirkuk saw the HPG and YJA STAR forces in the city centre, they greeted our forces with slogans and great morale. Together with the residents who wanted to resist and peshmergas who did not want to leave the city, our forces then began to take up positions at the points abandoned by the peshmergas. We had no preparation in the city centre and a nearby defense line because our forces were on the ground to defend our people against Daesh. The city's defense line was broken when peshmergas left the city centre and the nearby defense line.

While the defense line was broken with the withdrawal of the peshmergas, our forces formed a new defense line with our people wanting to resist. We had already declared to the public that in the event of a possible conflict we would not side with any force, that we would not clash with any force unless the bases of our forces and people were attacked. Panic arose when the last peshmerga groups left the city at noon. Majority of the people left the city. Our guerrilla forces, volunteering civilians and peshmergas who did not want to leave Kirkuk, were left alone in the positions. With the withdrawal of the last group of Peshmergas, the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shabi forces started attacks in Feyylak and Arefe districts with heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and mortars.

Our forces positioned on Feyylak bridge were also targeted in these attacks. Our forces responded strongly to this attack and there were heavy clashes. While clashes continued in Feyylak, a second confrontation and brief clashes with Hashd al-Shaabi forces took place as they tried to enter the city and Rehimava neighbourhood via the Erbil highway.

Ensuing clashes continued throughout the day. As fighting resumed in several locations, when the few people in the city also abandoned the city, our guerrilla forces were left alone. When this was the case, we shifted some of our forces to a safe area. In other words, our remaining forces in the morning hours remained in Kirkuk until the last moment. From Tuesday morning, the rest of our forces withdrew to a safe area on the defense line they formed.”