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Haider al-Abadi halts operation in northern Iraq

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 27/10/2017
Abadi has visited Iran's supreme leader, at right, to discuss the referendum [Khamenei.Ir AFP] © Provided by Al Jazeera Abadi has visited Iran's supreme leader, at right, to discuss the referendum [Khamenei.Ir AFP]

Iraq's prime minister has ordered a temporary halt to a military operation in the country's north aimed at wresting back territory held by Kurdish security forces.

In a statement on Friday, Haider al-Abadi ordered government forces to suspend their operations for 24 hours in order to enable the deployment of other forces in coordination with Kurdish forces in the disputed areas and along the country's borders.

The suspension of the movement of troops will allow a technical team from the two sides to jointly work for the deployment, Abadi said.

"This is aimed at preventing a showdown and bloodshed between people of the same country."

Abadi's decision came a day after government forces and Kurdish forces clashed near the northern city of Mosul.

Ceasefire claim retracted

Earlier on Friday, the US-led coalition battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (SIL) group, also known as ISIS, said Iraqi and Kurdish forces must focus on dialogue and reducing internal tensions in order to combat a larger enemy.

"We are encouraging dialogue. We're trying to get the tensions down and to refocus our efforts on defeating ISIS," Colonel Ryan Dillon, coalition spokesperson, told Rudaw, a news agency in Iraq's Kurdish region, in a video interview posted on Friday.

"What we are encouraging is dialogue and trying to get the right people to the table."

Dillon said in the interview that there was a "ceasefire" between Iraqi and Kurdish forces, but he later retracted those remarks, noting on Twitter that while both parties had been talking, it was "not an official 'ceasefire'".

The primary goal is to prevent the resurgence of ISIL, Dillon said.

"They thrive on instability and discord between groups, and we cannot let them resurface. We've got to cut the head off of that snake and prevent them from coming back," he said.

Dillon's remarks came after days of increasing tensions and violence between Iraqi and Kurdish forces. 

Last week, Iraqi forces retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which had been held by the Kurds since the Iraqi army fled from advancing ISIL fighters in 2014.

The move came just weeks after a secession referendum, in which 92 percent of Kurds supported independence from Iraq, prompting clashes between the two sides.

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