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Unknown armed group abandons positions near Tuz Khurmatu

By Rudaw 3/12/2017
A Kurdish fighter who belongs to a group that calls itself
A Kurdish fighter who belongs to a group that calls itself "Liberation Army" stands guard in a village east of Tuz Khurmatu. The Kurdish group say they do not know the identity of the unknown group stationed near their positions. File photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The unknown armed group that was reportedly stationed in villages close to Tuz Khurmatu has left their positions and moved south, an official told Rudaw.

Mala Karim Shukir, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) office in Tuz Khurmatu, said the "majority" of the unidentified force left their positions near Tuz Khurmatu over the past two days and went to adjacent areas in Diyala and other regions under the control of Iraqi forces.

The PUK official has been carrying out his role from outside Tuz Khurmatu since mid-October.

A Rudaw field investigation in late November could not determine the identity of the group that appeared in the area earlier that month. Locals said at the time that they had long beards and some spoke foreign languages, causing speculation they may have been ISIS remnants trying to regroup after territorial losses in Iraq. Others said they could also be irregular Iraqi or Kurdish forces.

A Kurdish armed group, formed mainly of Peshmerga defectors and calling themselves the "Liberation Army," is also stationed in several villages east of Tuz Khurmatu. Their stated mission is to take control of areas that fell to Iraqi forces and the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi in October.

The Liberation Army told Rudaw they did not know who the other group was.

Raa'is Kamal, a security official from the PUK who used to work from Tuz Khurmatu, told Rudaw in November they had intelligence about the presence of this group, whom he said were ISIS militants.

He claimed their numbers increased following the October 16 events when Iraqi forces and the Hashd took control of the majority of the disputed areas after deadly clashes with Kurdish forces in Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.

Kawa Mala Parwez, a security official working with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), speaking to Rudaw in November claimed that the group had Kurds, Arabs, and foreigners among its ranks. He said at the time that they wanted to establish a "military base" in Tuz Khurmatu.


Video: Peshmerga reported in June, 2017 that they had intelligence where ISIS would go next

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