Talabani returns and promises to bring peace to Kurdistan

THE KURDISH leader, Jalal Talabani, promised to restore peace in Iraqi Kurdistan yesterday by unilaterally withdrawing his fighters from the front line of the month-long conflict that has brought the 3.5 million Iraqi Kurds to the brink of civil war.

'This was some kind of madness, even I do not understand why it happened,' he said at his office in a mansion outside the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Arbil. He said his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) fighters would withdraw from positions in the mountains north of Arbil around the headquarters of his rivals in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Massoud Barzani.

About 100 prisoners held by the PUK would be released, propaganda attacks halted and PUK gunners brought down from rooftops in Arbil, he added. He said the PUK had abandoned its occupation of the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament, taken over when a land dispute on 1 May flared up into a serious inter-Kurdish conflit.

Mr Talabani's return to Kurdistan on Thursday after a long absence has already lowered tensions on roads and flashpoints. No fighting has been reported for more than 24 hours around Arbil, where the eastern territory controlled by the PUK and western part controlled by the KDP overlap.

But fighting was still reported around Penjwin between the PUK and Islamists supported from over the border by Iran. Mr Talabani accused Iran and Iraq of conspiring in recent meetings to destroy the Kurdish enclave, set up under Western protection after the Gulf war in 1991. 'If Iran continues to invade our country we will resist,' he said, accusing Iran of cross-border attacks, shelling and massing troops.

But Mr Talabani agreed the Kurds had been very destrutive on their own. About 60 of his men had been killed in the fighting and a similar number were killed on the other side, he said. Other estimates speak of 400 dead, including a number of massacres.

The fighting in Kurdistan was aggravated by Mr Talabani's absence, but he said he had not been able to get back safely. US helicopters attached to Operation Provide Comfort protecting the Kurds have not flown near Arbil since two were accidentally shot down in April. In the end, it was a Turkish helicopter that took Mr Talabani home.

It is unclear how quickly the two main Kurdish guerrilla armies can start working together again after the fighting. Most of the population voiced disgust with the internecine conflict. Mr Talabani said he was ready to accept Mr Barzani's proposal to bring forward elections due next year. This might produce one leader to replace the unwieldy power-sharing deal reached after the inconclusive elections of May 1992.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Primary supply teachers required in Stowmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week