Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said Turkey helped to the Kurdish people in a time of distress while adding that they are ready to negotiate with Baghdad to reach a solution to the crisis that occurred following the illegal independence referendum of the Kurdish region.
Speaking at a press conference in Irbil, Barzani said they have good relations with the KRG and want to live peacefully with their neighbors. "We want to negotiate with all of our neighbors. Turkey is an important neighbor for us [the KRG] and [Turkey previously] helped the Kurds in the KRG in their most difficult times," Barzani stated, while adding that the KRG government is ready to have efficient negotiations. "I do not believe that matters can be solved through military force. We need a political approach to solve the crisis," Barzani added.
Meanwhile, a senior official from the KRG Ministry for Peshmerga Affairs said on Sunday that sixty peshmerga fighters have been killed and 150 injured in clashes with Iraqi and Hashd al-Shaabi forces since Oct. 16.
In remarks at a press meeting in Irbil, Lt. Gen. Jabbar Yawar said Irbil and Baghdad have not reached an agreement about handing over border crossings and the peshmerga's withdrawal from disputed areas.
Jawar said the KRG is not seeking a war, and on the contrary, supports dialogue.
"We believe that the problems should be resolved with negotiations. The KRG government always reiterated that disputes can only be resolved through dialogue," he said.
More conflicts would deepen the problems, Jawar added.
In mid-October, Iraqi forces wrested control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from KRG peshmerga forces one month after northern Iraq's KRG held a controversial referendum on regional independence.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-held areas – and in a number of disputed districts – voted on whether to declare independence from Iraq.
According to results announced by the KRG, nearly 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.
The referendum has faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors, including the U.S., Turkey, and Iran, who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq's fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
In response to the referendum, Iraqi government forces and the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias launched an offensive on Oct. 16 to retaliate against the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.
A mainly bloodless advance by Iraqi forces saw them reclaim the entire oil-rich province of Kirkuk, stripping the KRG of a major chunk of its oil revenues and dealing a crippling blow to hopes for independence.