. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraqis Invade Kurd Capital, Withdraw

Combined Reports

SALAHUDDIN, Iraq -- UN officials said Iraqi troops had withdrawn from the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan on Monday, two days after installing their Kurdish allies, but opponents of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein reported executions in the streets.

There was no immediate reaction from the United States, where President Bill Clinton had conferred with U.S. allies on how to respond to Iraq's surprise capture of Arbil on Saturday.

"All Iraqis have left Arbil. We cannot see any more tanks or vehicles or artillery. They are about five kilometers away now," one UN official in Arbil said.

In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller also said Baghdad's troops had left.

"I know that as of today Saddam's forces have withdrawn and that this order has been given. We are pleased about this."

The UN official in Arbil spoke hours after Saddam ordered his forces to withdraw following two days of fighting.

But an Iraqi Kurdish group said Baghdad's troops remained and were carrying out mass executions.

"It is not true," Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, Ankara representative Shazad Saib said when asked if Iraqi troops had left Arbil, captured in a joint assault with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the PUK's rival.

"[Iraqi troops] have committed mass executions in Arbil itself of PUK members -- some of them have been executed in the streets. A few hundred have been killed. Many hundreds have been arrested," Saib said.

He said the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP, was guiding Iraqi troops going door to door armed with lists to find people opposed to Saddam's government. There was no confirmation of the PUK report. Reporters in northern Iraq were prevented by KDP members from reaching Arbil.

Despite the reports of an Iraqi pullout and uncertainty over Saddam's intentions, the attack on an area outside Saddam's control since the Gulf War had continuing repercussions.

U.S. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, saying he was "very much concerned about the deterioration" announced Sunday, said he was delaying the start of an oil-for-food deal with Baghdad.

Clinton placed U.S. forces in the region on high alert.

General John Shalikashvili, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau were touring regional capitals before leaving for Washington from Cairo late Monday.

But Jordan said it would give no assistance in military action against Iraq.

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on Iraqi leaders to "avoid measures which could further aggravate the situation.''

"We hope that all countries will not use force to solve the problem, endanger the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and stir up tension in the region,'' the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said. ()