A member of the Kurdish Peshmerga pictured in 2015 in Makhmur front, southwest of Erbil. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Peshmerga officials stationed near Kirkuk rejected a request from a visiting Iraqi Army delegation on Wednesday to enter Kurdish controlled territory to carry out an operation against ISIS elements.
“A delegation from the Iraqi Joint Forces visited us ... asking us to allow them to carry out raids [against ISIS] in Laylan, Qarahanjir and Shwan areas in Kirkuk,” said Brig. Gen. Saed Idris, the deputy commander of the Brigade 1 of the Peshmerga.
Qarahanjir and Shwan are under the control of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
This is the first such meeting between Kurdish and Iraqi forces in Kirkuk since the October 16 events, which saw the Peshmerga pull out its forces in the face of a major offensive backed by Baghdad.
The Iraqi Army and Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias are trying to halt the reemergence of ISIS in Kirkuk and other Sunni dominated areas.
Kurdish forces are keen to maintain control over the areas they still hold and are wary of any encroachment by the Iraqi Army and Hashd al-Shaabi.
Although the Iraqi government declared the defeat of ISIS in December 2017, there have been sporadic military confrontations between ISIS remnants and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The ISF has launched a sweep up operation on the Kirkuk-Khurmatu-Kifri road in a bid to capture ISIS and ‘White Flags’ militants in the unstable area.
“The Iraqi forces have started an operation on the Kirkuk-Khurmatu-Kifri road to sweep up the area,” Mala Karim Shukr, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)’s Hamrin office, told Rudaw.
The Peshmerga is also carrying out operations against ISIS remnants, particularly in the Makhmour region with the help of the global anti-ISIS coalition.
A high ranking Hashd al-Shaabi official was killed on the Tuz Khurmatu-Kirkuk road on Monday, the group’s media announced in a statement.