Baghdad and Hewlêr intensify action against ISIS

Following the recent ISIS attacks, Baghdad and Hewlêr have decided to intensify their military and intelligence cooperation in the fight against terror.

The military forces of the Kurdish autonomous region and Iraq want to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against the terrorist organisation ISIS. At a high-level security meeting at the Joint Operations Command office in Baghdad on Saturday, both sides agreed to intensify joint action against the jihadist militia and expand intelligence cooperation. "Improving inter-agency cooperation is the need of the hour and imperative," said Jabar Yawar, Secretary General of the Peshmerga Ministry in Hewlêr (Erbil).

Security and military cooperation between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Armed Forces is to be expanded, primarily in disputed areas of the country. "It was agreed to continue bilateral meetings to develop a clear vision for preventing and combating terrorism," said a statement released by the Joint Operations Command.

ISIS operates de facto without restrictions

ISIS continues to control a larger region in the southern Kurdistan-Iraq border area and repeatedly carries out attacks. Although only last May the Peshmerga of the South Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi security forces opened a total of four joint coordination centres for security operations in the disputed areas, the jihadists often operate largely without restrictions. Only on Friday night, three civilians and nine peshmerga were killed in attacks around the town of Maxmur. In the meantime, the number of peshmergas killed has risen to ten.

The attacks took place near the mountain Qereçox. An ISIS base is located on the eastern slope, to which jihadists withdrew from northern and eastern Syria after the military victory over the militia in spring 2019. Estimates put the number of mercenaries on the massif at 150. Last year, an ISIS group coming from Qereçox attacked the refugee camp in Maxmur and injured three residents. Between August and September, six people from Maxmur camp were abducted by the militia when they were caught in an ISIS ambush disguised as an Iraqi army checkpoint.

Peshmergas in the region have recently complained that they are practically fighting a losing battle due to the poor equipment and small forces deployed in the disputed areas. The KDP, which dominates the government of the autonomous region, is using the state-of-the-art equipment supplied by the anti-ISIS coalition, along with the largest contingents of troops, not to fight ISIS but to support the Turkish invasion of the southern Kurdish Medya defense Zones.

Disputed areas

The disputed areas are regions in the north of Iraq whose administrative allocation is disputed between Baghdad and Hewlêr. The provinces of Nineveh and Kirkuk as well as small parts of the governorates of Salahaddin and Diyala are mainly affected.