Army brigade defects in disputed territories

More than 1,000 Iraqi Army troops in Tuz Khurmatu, the site of past Kurd-Arab violence, have defied their chain of command, refused to redeploy, and could soon formally join the Peshmerga.
Army brigade defects in disputed territories
Armed Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters hold a post in the mountains between the towns of Tuz Khurmatu and Khanaqin, on the border of the Diyala and Sulaimaniya provinces, on November 22, 2012. (MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD/ERBIL/KIRKUK - More than half of an Iraqi Army brigade stationed in the heart of Iraq's disputed territories has defected and could be incorporated into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region's Peshmerga security forces.

Beginning in early May, the 16th Brigade, which is based in Tuz Khurmatu, began defying direct orders to leave that volatile town, and also refused to accept an Iraqi Army decision to replace its Kurdish commander with a Shiite Arab. The Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga began supplying the brigade with fuel, and food on June 1, and on June 9 decided to pay the soldiers' salaries, according to two members of the brigade and a senior Peshmerga Ministry official.

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