Iraqi officials deny Khanaqin row

Sept. 10, 2008 at 7:35 PM
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BAGHDAD, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Iraqi government officials Wednesday denied allegations of a looming crisis between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi troops in eastern Diyala province.

Iraqi troops launched military operations in Diyala province to target al-Qaida fighters and Shiite militants. A row over authority evolved as Kurdish forces claimed responsibility over northern sections of Diyala, notably in the city of Khanaqin.

Briefing reporters in Baghdad, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qadir pointed to a lack of coordination as a possible explanation for the reports.

"The crisis, as we see it in the media, does not exist in the field," he said.

He questioned the allegations regarding the crisis, noting Iraqi authorities would not be coordinating with local officials in the area if there were a major issue of authority in northern Diyala.

The defense minister further denied Iraqi military troops had entered Khanaqin in the first place, stating his forces had conducted operations only outside the borders of the city.

"This whole issue has been exaggerated," he said. "We work directly with the officials in the region; they talk to us as we talk to them," he added.

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