The new deployment is in addition to tens of thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces who are already stationed in and around Kirkuk.
“There are threats by the Iraqi army that has deployed forces near Kirkuk supposedly to attack Kirkuk.
But I don’t believe it will be easy for them to do that,” Rasul, also a veteran Peshmerga commander told Rudaw while in Kirkuk.
He is commanding various Kurdish forces in the province.
“We do not want war, and we seek to solve problems through dialogue,” the Kurdish commander said.
“We are not afraid of anyone’s threats, because the Peshmerga, as it is evident from it is name, means dying for victory.”
The latest tension has surfaced when the Kurdistan Region held a vote on independence on September 25, including in Kirkuk that is part of the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated on Thursday that “We will not use our army against our people or fight a war against our Kurdish and other citizens,” after the Kurdish Security Council had issued a warning a day before that the Iraqi forces, and the Iranian-backed mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi were preparing for a “major attack” on Kurdistan.
A prominent Shiite commander, however, told Rudaw Thursday that they were on alert to launch an attack, if asked by PM Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces.
VP Rasul said that the Iraqi forces should understand that the Iraqi army since the 1970s has always tried to bring the Kurdish territories under their control, but have failed, as they will this time.
He said they call on the international community “to interfere” in order to prevent a war between the two armies.
Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim, whose official position is no longer recognized by the Iraqi government since its parliament voted to remove him last month, visited some of the neighborhoods and Peshmerga positions in Kirkuk, to convey messages of reassurance to the people that the Peshmerga will be there to defend them, if attacked.
He told reporters in the early hours of Friday morning that Iraq should realize that the people of Kirkuk foiled an ISIS major attack on Kirkuk last year this month when they attacked the city from multiple positions, but were taken by surprise by the people of Kirkuk and the security forces.
He predicted the same for a potential Iraqi attack.
“We do not want war, never wanted it.
But every time our people were attacked, we resisted the enemy and defended our land,” Governor Karim said.
He said the latest deployment of forces, and the threats to do so, proves that the Iraqi army and its allied forces have always wanted to return back to the Kurdish-controlled areas after the defeat of ISIS.
The Kurdish Peshmerga moved to most of the areas it is now in control of in Kirkuk after the Iraqi army failed to defend the areas and withdrew from their position when the ISIS group attacked much of Iraq’s northern territories, including Kirkuk.
The Kurdish forces have since defended the province, including its oil wells.
Kaka Hama, another veteran Peshmerga commander, has also deployed his forces to Kirkuk.
He also said that the Iraqi forces are making movements in the area.
“There is some level of preparation [by the Iraqi forces], they have deployed some forces to certain areas, such as in Bashir,” Mohammadi Haji Mahmud or Kaka Hama old Rudaw, making reference to the Hashd-controlled Bashir located south of Kirkuk
He said that they are ready to defend Kirkuk and “every inch of Kurdistan...with our own blood.”