ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish Peshmerga forces are ready for the looming Mosul offensive and only waiting for the Iraqi Army to clear routes towards the last Iraqi city still controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS), a Kurdish commander said.
“The Peshmerga are ready for the operation and waiting for the Iraqi army to be ready as well, since the offensive will be jointly launched, with support from the US-led coalition,” said Arif Taifur, commander of the Peshmerga forces on the Khazir front.
He added that Kurdish military officials have already informed “the US, Iraq and members of the US-led coalition that the Peshmerga forces are ready for the Mosul operation.”
Meanwhile, Anwar Haji Osman, deputy minister of the Peshmerga, revealed that on the Peshmerga side “military preparations have finished; what is left is a political agreement.”
The Kurdish leadership has reiterated that a political agreement on how a post-ISIS Mosul would be government is important. The Kurds want reassurances that minority groups in the multiethnic city will be protected.
Peshmerga forces are only 28 kilometers from the center of Mosul city.
“The majority of the key routes heading to Mosul are held by the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army has not depended on the southern Mosul roads as much as it has done on the routes held by the Peshmerga,” Osman explained.
He added an agreement was needed with Baghdad and the US for Iraqi forces to use routes held by the Peshmerga. “Good steps have been taken in this regard,” he said.
Erbil, Baghdad, and Washington reached an accord on cooperation between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army in the battle for Mosul during a tripartite meeting hosted by the Kurdish president earlier this month.
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani is expected to visit Baghdad shortly to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other authorities about a range of issues, most notably the looming Mosul offensive, said a Kurdish official.
That offensive will drive the last nail into the group’s coffin in Iraq. Hence, there are fears the group will try any means to keep its foothold in the country, maybe even resorting to chemical weapons and using myriads of suicide bombers.
Another Kurdish commander believes the Peshmerga must receive more of the effective weapons and ammunition to fight the group, particularly the German Milan missile which has played decisive roles in destroying car bombs on multiple fronts.
“For the Mosul fight, the Peshmerga have not received any brand new weapons, but we have asked and we are waiting for them to be dispatched, especially the Milan missile which is very effective in destroying any armored vehicles, as there is a great probability of ISIS increasing its suicide bombings for this battle,” the commander said.
ISIS swept into a third of Iraq as soon as it seized control of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, in June 2014.