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Iraqi army wins acclaim for its defeat of ISIS

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops receive appreciation shields from the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey in this photo, posted online on November 3rd. [Photo from the Iraqi Ministry of Defence Facebook page]

International leaders and military institutions have hailed the courage and commitment Iraqi forces have shown in their battle to oust the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) from cities under the group's control.

Following joint military exercises with Turkey that concluded October 30th, the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey presented Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service troops with shields of excellence for their discipline and professionalism.

Iraqi Ministry of Defence media director Brig. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji said the exercises impressed the Turkish army’s commanders, who expressed their admiration for the fighting spirit, high morale and experience of Iraqi soldiers.

This tribute was not the first of its kind, he told Diyaruna, noting that Iraq's military has received accolades from heads of state and military leaders from around the world, particularly its partners in the international coalition.

"Our army today is highly respected and regarded for its outstanding combat performance and courage in fighting terrorists, as well as its ethical treatment of civilians and its many sacrifices to protect them," he said.

"We fought a vicious enemy that does not recognise any religious or humanitarian rules or values, a brutal group that deems everything permissible, but despite that we were able to direct the battles successfully," al-Khafaji said.

"Our forces respected international humanitarian standards during combat and did not allow the terrorists to harm the besieged people or spread chaos and destruction everywhere," he added.

A stronger military

Al-Khafaji credited the coalition for its help in teaching Iraqi troops advanced urban combat and logistical skills, how to make use of new technology and for sharing the benefits of the experience gained by its various militaries.

"The Iraqi army today is not subordinate to any political system or a party," he said. "It is only subordinate to the constitution and laws of the Iraqi state, and this has earned it additional worldwide respect."

Final victory over ISIS is near, and Iraq soon will be declared free of it, he said.

"There will be a great celebration, and that victory will be the greatest tribute to our army," he added.

Iraq's army is currently ranked the 59th most powerful army in the world by Global Firepower, which ranks armies based on 50 criteria, including defence budget, total number of troops and type of weapons in their arsenal.

Asymmetric warfare

The Iraqi army faced a very difficult test but was able to prevail, strategy expert Ahmed al-Sharifi told Diyaruna.

"The war fought by the army is classified as fourth generation warfare, or what is known as asymmetric warfare," he explained.

In addition to human effort, this type of warfare requires a strong command of technology and the ability to battle fighters in narrow alleys and prevent them from taking cover among civilians, he said.

"It was a realistic test of the skills and technical expertise our soldiers learned from the international coalition," he added. "They faced the challenge and succeeded."

That success was manifested by the soldiers’ ability to operate in a highly sensitive combat environment, exercise caution in dealing with civilians and refrain from using excessive firepower in order to preserve infrastructure and lives, al-Sharifi said.

"What was accomplished is a historical achievement credited to the Iraqi armed forces," he said.

Courageous sacrifice

The Iraq army fought "a war on terrorism on behalf of the whole world", said Iraqi MP Iskandar Watwat, who serves on the parliamentary security and defence committee.

It was able to achieve victory "thanks to the sacrifices of many soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save the people of their country from the oppression of ISIS, crush the group and prevent its expansion", he told Diyaruna.

This will help to mitigate the threat to the international community, he added.

"Our army is known for its courage, and it received excellent international training," he said. "It is now at the centre of the world’s consciousness and has its support."

"We have reached the end of the road," he added. "Our fighters have written an unparalleled heroic epic by the admission of everyone, and they deserve all our gratitude and appreciation."

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However, doesn’t the Iraqi army with all of its branches deserve to receive assistance? The allowance has been cancelled. Is this a gift for it? The salaries will be cut, and is this another gift? They haven’t received any dues whatsoever, and they haven’t been given promotions until now. Why? Is this your support for the Iraqi army?

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