ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Peshmerga forces aim to push forward to liberate Riaz and Rashad, another two districts held by the Islamic State (ISIS) for two years, before they liberate Hawija.
But Baghdad has objected to the presence of the Peshmerga forces further south.
Brig. Gen. Aras Abdulqadir, a Peshmerga commander, told Rudaw that despite objections from Baghdad, military discussions are underway to “set up a strong military plan to liberate Riaz and Rashad from ISIS.”
Abdulqadir added that the “power balance” has changed on the battlefields since the group was greatly weakened, as “they are running out of manpower, weapons, ammunition and financial resources.”
The Kurdish commander described the two districts as “supply lines” for the group. When they are cut off, the militants will melt away.
The Peshmerga have opened their door to displaced families fleeing the clutches of the ISIS group, those whose men have not fought Kurdish forces in Kirkuk.
At least 200 to 250 families reach Peshmerga positions daily.
“We knew they would treat us well, with honor. Therefore, we heeded their call. Please free us from these killers of humanity. They took everything with them, including the palm trees,” lamented a displaced elderly who had reached Peshmerga frontlines.
More than 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are expected to flee Hawija, Riaz and Rashad when the battle kicks off.