Iraqi troops and Shiite Hashd al-Shabai advance towards liberated Hawija in south Kirkuk on October 4. Photo: AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Three Peshmerga were lightly wounded in a suspected friendly fire incident with the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi during a raid to capture ISIS militants in the Kirkuk region, according to an official.
Hashd al-Shaabi members were carrying out a raid near Shalalat village in southwestern Kirkuk to capture a number of ISIS militants Friday night. They opened fire on the Peshmerga frontline, wounding three.
“Due to the Hashd al-Shaabi’s firing directed at our positions, three Peshmerga were moderately wounded,” said Said Lukman, a Peshmerga official.
“We immediately responded to them,” he added.
The Peshmerga were later told the target of the Hashd were ISIS militants, not the Peshmerga.
“They let us know that 11 ISIS militants had fallen in between our frontline and Shalalat village,” said Lukman.
Nine of the 11 militants turned themselves into the Peshmerga Saturday morning.
Iraqi armed forces have retaken Hawija from ISIS, the Joint Operations Command announced Thursday morning.
The 9th armored division, Federal Police, Rapid Response force, and brigades of the Hashd al-Shaabi have “completely liberated” Hawija, the command stated, adding that operations were continuing to clear ISIS from areas east of the town.
The town of Hawija was the centre of a pocket of ISIS territory southeast of Kirkuk. From there, ISIS carried out frequent, deadly attacks on Peshmerga and civilians in Kirkuk province.
Before operations began, the US-led coalition estimated there were fewer than 1,000 ISIS militants in the Hawija area. The operation began two weeks ago. The Peshmerga, which had several fronts with ISIS in the area, have provided some support to the Iraqi forces but have largely stayed out of the offensive.