The Peshmerga stationed just outside Kirkuk have been chomping at the bit to get back into the city and contribute to security efforts there. However, they have been rebuffed numerous times by the Iraqi government. Now the Iraqi Army is requesting to enter Kurdistan in an effort to hunt down Islamic State militants. Deputy commander of the Peshmerga’s 1st Brigade, Brig. Gen. Saed Idris, immediately rejected this proposal. General Idris stated that, “A delegation from the Iraqi Joint Forces visited us … asking us to allow them to carry out raids [against ISIS] in Laylan, Qarahanjir and Shwan areas in Kirkuk.” The aforementioned territories are presently under 1st Brigade Peshmerga control.

The meeting was the first of its kind to take place between Iraqi and Kurdish force’s commanders since the Peshmerga were forced to withdraw from Kirkuk in October. The forces that replaced them, supported by the Iraqi government, are presently engaged in continued anti-ISIS operations in the region. The Shiite paramilitary security forces are struggling to combat the Islamic States sleeper cells, who are operating in a predominantly Sunni territory.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its military forces are eager to maintain control of the regions and land they are presently occupying. The Peshmerga in particular are extremely wary of the Iraqi Army attempting to enter Kurdish lands given their history. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the Islamic State officially defeated in mid-December of 2017. However, there have been a series of attacks by splinter factions of ISIS militants on Peshmerga forces and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) since then.

The Iraqi Security Forces have begun an anti-Islamic State operation in the Khurmatu region to capture or kill any remaining militants in the area. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) head, Mala Karim Shukr told local media that, “The Iraqi forces have started an operation on the Kirkuk-Khurmatu-Kifri road to sweep up the area.” Recently the Peshmerga conducted an operation in Makhmour as well. They successfully eliminated four ISIS militants, including the Islamic State’s head of logistics and financing.

Featured image: Peshmerga soldiers await a signal to advance forward during live-fire squad-based movement training near Erbil, Iraq, Oct. 12, 2015. This training is part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve’s building partner capacity mission to enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. 

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