Pesh­marga re­gained huge ground from ISIS south of Kirkuk

Se­nior Pesh­marga com­man­der in­jured, over 150 square kilo­me­tres cleared suc­cess­fully

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Muham­mad Haji Mah­moud, a well-known Kur­dish Pesh­merga com­man­der and leader of the Kur­dish So­cial­ist Party, was among the wounded near Daqouq in Kirkuk province as forces re­cap­tured four vil­lages south of the city on Fri­day from the Is­lamic State group (IS).

Mil­i­tary sources said Mah­moud was in­jured along with a group of 21 Pesh­merga in the vil­lage of Albu Muham­mad, some 30 kilo­me­tres south of Kirkuk. His wounds were not life threat­en­ing.

Kur­dish forces backed by air strikes from a U.Sled coali­tion drove Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants out of nine vil­lages in north­ern Iraq on Fri­day, Kur­dish author­i­ties said.

The as­sault be­gan at dawn on two fronts in the north­ern province of Kirkuk, and by early af­ter­noon, Pesh­merga forces had taken an area of over 150 square km (60 square miles), the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil of the au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan re­gion said in a state­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Ru­daw the Pesh­merga forces pushed back IS mil­i­tants from 13 vil­lages.

At least 40 in­sur­gents were killed in the of­fen­sive in the Daquq area, some 175 km (110 miles) north of the Iraqi cap­i­tal Bagh­dad, the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil said. Of around 1,500 Pesh­merga who took part, four lost their lives, ac­cord­ing to Kur­dish fight­ers who took part in the bat­tle.

Most of the front line be­tween Pesh­merga and Is­lamic State has not moved in months.

The Kurds al­ready con­trol much of the ter­ri­tory they claim as their own, and have lit­tle in­cen­tive to push fur­ther into pre­dom­i­nantly Arab towns and vil­lages, ex­cept where they pose a di­rect threat to their re­gion.

The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil said Fri­day’s op­er­a­tion would “fur­ther weaken IS’s abil­ity to threaten the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion”, and said the Pesh­merga had taken con­trol of the strate­gic Dusera heights and a stretch of the main road from Kirkuk to Bagh­dad.

Coali­tion war­planes tar­geted dozens of Is­lamic State po­si­tions, pro­vid­ing close air sup­port to the Pesh­merga and de­stroy­ing a sui­cide car bomb, the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil said.

The Pesh­merga have emerged as an im­por­tant ally for the coali­tion, push­ing the in­sur­gents back in north­ern Iraq and ef­fec­tively ex­pand­ing their re­gion in the process. That has seen them en­croach on ar­eas over which Bagh­dad claims ju­ris­dic­tion.

Last sum­mer, the Kurds took full con­trol of the dis­puted city of Kirkuk af­ter the Iraqi army aban­doned its bases there, but western parts of the province such as Haw­ija re­main un­der Is­lamic State con­trol.

In the last six months, the Pesh­merga have cleared more than 530 square km south of Kirkuk in a se­ries of of­fen­sives.

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