Peshmerga forces deployed on a mission south of Kirkuk. File photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, in presence of a US-led coalition representative, reached a five point coordination agreement for the Hawija operation, which is in its fourth day.
The agreement opens attacking routes for Iraqi security forces from south of Kirkuk, as reported by Hardi Muhammed, a correspondent for Rudaw in Kirkuk.
The Iraqi and Kurdish sides agreed that the Peshmerga will open a route for the displaced persons.
According to the agreement’s third point, the Peshmerga will supply the Iraqi army with logistical reinforcements, when needed.
The Peshmerga will do its part via artillery, it added.
According to the agreement’s last point, the Peshmerga will not withdraw from any areas it currently controls.
Muhammed reported a representative from the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS was present at meeting.
Peshmerga have four defensive fronts in the area.
According to Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, ISF had cleared all areas west of the Euphrates in the Hawija pocket as of Saturday. They had cleared most villages in the Al Zab area to the northwest of Hawija town. Outside of the town limits, ISF and ISIS clashes continued in the southwestern area of Tal Thahab.
In the early hours of Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the long-awaited Hawija operation, with the army making gains around the ISIS-held stronghold.
Peshmerga in Zarga explained on Saturday they were coordinating with Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary units (PMUs) to reach the village’s bridge.
Zarga is on the border of the Kirkuk and Salahaddin governorates, about 25 kilometers west of Tuz Khurmatu and 80 kilometers south of Hawija town.
From there, Hashd will work northward towards Hawija and link up with other Iraqi security forces, according a PMU commander.
Prior to the operation, there was concern about Hashd and Peshmerga coordination. Also the Coalition has said it is not able to provide Hashd with air strikes; whereas, the Coalition has provided airstrikes in support of Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces. In the previous Tal Afar operation, ISF were paired with the PMUs, while the Peshmerga maintained defensive lines.
The coalition has estimated there are fewer than 1,000 fighters in the Hawija area. ISIS militants have controlled the area in Kirkuk Province since June 2014. The operation commenced on Thursday concurrently with an Iraqi offensive in Anbar Province.