Peshmerga tank on the Khazir front. Rudaw photo.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Peshmerga consolidated their positions against ISIS near Mosul’s city limits on Monday, as the Iraqi Army continues its push ahead toward the city itself.
“The Iraqi forces are coming closer to Mosul from all directions,” said Abdulghani Assadi, a commander in Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces.
“The Peshmerga have stopped now and carried out their plans. We are completing the rest of the plan from our fronts,” he added.
Peshmerga forces have secured the Mosul periphery from the north and east after two weeks of fighting ISIS in towns and villages in those areas. There are no plans for them to move into the city. The Iraqi Army is advancing against ISIS in Mosul from the north, east and south with the ultimate goal of removing the militants completely from the urban center.
To Mosul’s west the Hashd al-Shaabi Shiite militia – which is fighting alongside the Iraqi Army -- has its eye on taking the town of Tal Afar, which has a mixed Sunni and Shiite Turkmen population. If the militia is able to capture that town, it will make it more difficult for ISIS to retreat from Mosul back to its Raqqa stronghold in neighboring Syria.
Turkey is opposed to a Hashd presence in that town and has sent more soldiers to the Turkish town of Silopi on the border with Iraq, warning that it will intervene if the Hashd carries out any abuses in Tal Afar.
“If Hashd al-Shaabi causes terror there in [Tal Afar], our response to it will be different,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday.
The Hashd, like the Peshmerga, has not been asked by either Baghdad or the US-led coalition to enter the city of Mosul itself. Instead, it is expected to focus entirely on capturing and securing territory outside of that key city from ISIS.