Iraqi forces, Peshmerga increase co-operation against ISIS
Iraqi and Kurdish forces will carry out joint security operations to hunt down and eliminate "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants, the Iraqi Operations Command said Wednesday (February 6th).
The announcement followed a new round of meetings that kicked off on February 4th in Erbil between an Iraqi delegation led by the army's Deputy Chief Of Staff For Operations Lt. Gen. Abdul Ameer Rashid Yarallah, and representatives of the Peshmerga and the Interior Ministry in the Kurdish region's government.
A series of meetings between the two sides took place in late 2018, including a December 26th meeting between officials from the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs in the capital Baghdad.
Both sides agreed to "work in the spirit of one team and identify focal points, prevent any terrorist infiltration and jointly hold the ground", according to a Ministry of Defence statement.
The recent meetings focused on three main points, Joint Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul told Diyaruna Friday.
The first calls for "conducting a field survey of areas that lie between the deployment positions of Iraqi army forces and the Peshmerga", he said.
The second point is related to "the exchange of information and intelligence between the two sides regarding the activities and movements of terrorist elements", he said.
While the third involves the establishment of joint centres to co-ordinate the movement of military units, said Rasul.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces will be "hunting down ISIS remnants who have recently become active and are finding a safe haven in areas that lie between Iraqi army and Peshmerga positions", Rasul said.
The distance between these units' deployment positions ranges from one kilometre in some areas to up to 20 kilometres in others, he added.
ISIS remnants exploit these stretches of territory to hide and launch attacks toward villages and cities, said Rasul, stressing that these areas "will be carefully surveyed to target all terrorist remnants who try to tamper with the citizens' security and safety".
A number of ISIS elements are hiding in the outskirts of al-Hawijah and the Hamreen mountain range and are trying to carry out attacks to say that the group still exists, he said.
"But we are launching pre-emptive operations against them," he added.
"Our co-operation with the Peshmerga will help strengthen our efforts to eliminate the danger from these remnants."
Both sides share "the same enemy" and goal of eliminating terrorism and protecting citizens of all ethnicities and sects, Rasul said.
"The Peshmerga is part of the Iraqi defence system, and it has made an active contribution and sacrifices in the war against ISIS," he said. "We look to strengthen this partnership and the close relationship between us."