Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the operational chief commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.), traveled to the disputed province of Kirkuk on Monday and met with Abu Reza al-Najjar, the military commander of the northern zone in the province. According to Iran’s Fars News Agency, the Kurdish Regional Government last Wednesday deployed two battalions of Peshmerga forces and PKK militants to Kirkuk to assist Kurdish forces in the region against a perceived threat from P.M.F. paramilitary forces.
Moreover, the secretary-general of Asai'b Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, received a delegation from Kirkuk on Monday, which included local leaders and tribal sheikhs from the area. The delegation thanked al-Khazali for his group’s support to them in the Kirkuk dispute and efforts to prevent K.R.G. President Massoud Barzani's "project" to divide Iraq.
Comment: The Iraqi Kurdistan intends to hold an independence referendum on September 25, a move the Baghdad government as well as Iran and its Iraqi proxy groups strongly oppose. Iranian-backed commanders within the P.M.F. have lately warned that Iraq could descend back into chaos and civil war over escalating dispute on the Kurdish autonomy. If tension over the Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum continues, it will certainly culminate in civil war” Hadi al-Amiri, the head of Iranian-supported Badr Organization said last week. “Unfortunately, when the civil war breaks out, blood will be shed,” he added.