“The Peshmerga is much closer to Mosul than the Iraqi army is. This is a fact which they have to bear in mind before claiming that the Peshmerga will not be involved in any fight for Mosul.” Sheikh Jafffar Mustafa, Peshmerga commander told Rudaw TV.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa, a top commander and former Peshmerga minister has dismissed comments by Iraqi prime minister against Kurdish participation in the battle for Mosul as unrealistic, especially when the Peshmerga hold the key routes to the Islamic State-held city.
Sheikh Jaafar told Rudaw that he would ignore the comments of Prime Minister Haider Abadi because, he argued, the liberation of Mosul from ISIS would be impossible without coordination with and support of the Kurdish forces.
“Iraqi armed forces cannot control any territory they lost to ISIS in Iraq without the help or coordination with the Peshmerga and the US-led coalition,” said Sheikh Jaafar. “The Peshmerga surrounds and controls many areas and supply routes on the eastern and western sides of Mosul city.”
“Therefore without coordination with and cooperation of the Peshmerga, liberating Mosul is impossible and the Iraqi forces will not be able to fight ISIS alone,” he added.
Sheikh Jaafar went on to say that the Kurds have answered positively to a US call for coordination with Iraqi forces and participated in establishing the joint command center to work with the Iraqi and coalition militaries.
The veteran Kurdish commander said that the town of Qayyara would serve as a good example to see how the Iraqi army operates on the ground and how it may take them a long time to liberate Mosul.
“They have not yet been able to liberate Qayara which is 50-60km south of Mosul,” he said. “I reiterate that Mosul cannot be retaken form one single front, rather they have to hold many other fronts through which they will be able to besiege Mosul successfully.”
Sheikh Jaafar said his comments were a response to Iraqi PM Abadi who stated last week that the Peshmerga should not move from their current positions during the battle for Mosul and that any expansion on the Kurds’ part is unacceptable.
“It seems that these days Iraq makes contradicting announcements, sometimes they say the Peshmerga is an important force for the Mosul offensive and sometimes they say the Peshmerga do not have to enter Mosul. They are totally confused.” he said. “When they achieve a victory on the battlefield, which is not theirs actually, but the coalition forces’, they become arrogant. What they say or claim is just for the camera and their claims will never come true. They have only front to enter Mosul, while five strategic roads to Mosul are held by the Peshmerga.”
Sheikh Jaafar urged Iraqi leaders to be more realistic and see where their forces stand in relation to the ISIS stronghold compared to the Kurdish Peshmerga, adding that the offensive for Mosul may be a long way away given that Iraqi troops are yet to free towns such as Qayyara and Shargat to pave the way.
“In some areas the Peshmerga are only 7km away from Mosul, in some other areas 10km,” he explained. “The Peshmerga is much closer to Mosul than the Iraqi army is. This is a fact which they have to bear in mind before claiming that the Peshmerga will not be involved in any fight for Mosul.”