PUK begins demilitarization of headquarters in Kirkuk

An Iraqi fighter loyal to the federal government attempts to remove a sheet metal sign painted with the colours of the Kurdish flag from a building in the region of Altun Kupri, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Arbil, capital of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, on October 20, 2017. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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PUK begins demilitarization of headquarters in Kirkuk

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) began to demilitarize its headquarters in Kirkuk, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. 

The Kurdish flag was also taken down after it was raised in the disputed city on Tuesday. 

Iraq’s counter-terror unit gave PUK a deadline to lower the Kurdistan flag in Kirkuk on Thursday.  

The commander in the Iraqi force, Abdulwahab al-Saadi, arrived in Kirkuk on Thursday to take control of the situation and has told the PUK to lower the flag by midday on Friday, Iraqi daily newspaper Azzaman reported. 


New envoy stresses need for UN-backed solution to Syria war

Updated 53 min 54 sec ago
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New envoy stresses need for UN-backed solution to Syria war

  • Pedersen is the fourth UN envoy to seek a solution to Syria's conflict
  • Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since the war started with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011

DAMASCUS: The new UN envoy to Syria ended his first visit to the war-torn country Thursday, stressing the need for a UN-brokered political solution to the eight-year conflict.
Geir Pedersen, a seasoned Norwegian diplomat, concluded his three-day visit and headed to the Lebanese capital Beirut, a UN source told AFP.
The new envoy on Twitter late Wednesday said he had a "constructive meeting" with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during his stay in Damascus.
During it, he stressed the need for a "Syrian-led and -owned political solution facilitated by the UN", he added.
Pedersen, who started his new job last week, is the fourth UN envoy to seek a solution to Syria's conflict, after endless rounds of failed UN-brokered peace talks.
In recent years, UN-led efforts have been overshadowed by separate negotiations led by regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as rebel backer Turkey.
After Damascus, Pederson said he was off to meet the Syrian Negotiations Committee, Syria's main opposition group.
But he "agreed to come back to Damascus on a regular basis to discuss commonalities and progress on points of disagreement", he added.
On Tuesday, Muallem expressed Syria's "readiness to cooperate with him... in his mission to facilitate Syrian-Syrian dialogue with the objective of reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis", a foreign ministry statement said.
Pederson takes over from Staffan de Mistura, a Swiss-Italian diplomat who stepped down at the end of last year over "personal reasons".
Officials in the government of President Bashar al-Assad had set the tone for the new envoy's tenure shortly after his appointment was announced in October.
"Syria will cooperate with the new UN envoy Geir Pedersen provided he avoids the methods of his predecessor," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad said.
De Mistura ended his four-year tenure with an abortive push to form a committee tasked with drawing up a post-war constitution.
Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since the war started with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
With key military backing from Russia, Assad's forces have retaken large parts of Syria from rebels and extremists, and now control almost two-thirds of the country.
A drive to bring the Syrian regime back into the Arab fold also seems underway, with the UAE reopening their embassy in Damascus last month.