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Cooperation between Baghdad, Erbil rose in chasing ISIS: official

  2021-06-02  | 
 Zhyan News Network
A file photo of Peshmerga and Iraqi forces at a stronghold somewhere in Iraq
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – Coordination centers between Baghdad and Erbil in the disputed areas have contributed to increased military cooperation between the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces in  chasing Islamic State (ISIS) militants, an Iraqi military official said on Wednesday (June 2).

"The joint centers began their work in exchanging information and dealing with many matters related to the presence of terrorists,” Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, the spokesperson for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, told state media Iraqi News Agency (INA). 

Khafaji also said that the opening of the joint centers has been effective in hunting down ISIS militants, smuggling and protecting national economy. 

Four joint operation centers between Erbil and Baghdad have started their duties in the disputed cities of Khanaqin district, Kirkuk, Makhmur and Nineveh’s Sihela, Osman Risha, the Director General of Awareness and Media within the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs. 

“The joint center will exchange intelligence information, as well as they will mop up the areas and will do joint operation where ever it is required,” Risha told the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official media.

No joint forces between the Peshmerga and Iraqi army have been formed as of yet, according to the official. 

On May 17, a Peshmerga commander said two joint brigades will be formed along with the joint centers.

On Wednesday, eight ISIS militants were killed and five vehicles and motorcycles were destroyed in an operation Zinana and Dawda in the vicinity of Tuz Khurmatu district with the help of  the US-led Coalition warplanes, a Peshmerga official said.

The official said the Iraqi army did not participate in the operation.

Attacks by ISIS militants are scarce in the Kurdistan Region, but ISIS militants stage hit-and-run attacks intermittently, exploiting security gaps in the defense lines between the Peshmerga and federal security forces in the disputed territories. 

In May, five Peshmerga members were killed and at least two were wounded in two attacks by the militant group in Qayabashi and Omarbli villages near Altun Kupri (Pirde) and Zinana sub-districts in southern Erbil and Sulaimani.

The disputed areas are a belt of areas stretching from Nineveh through Kirkuk to Diyala provinces, where the Peshmerga forces were expelled Following the 2017 aborted independence referendum that led to the creation of security void. 

Iraq declared the fall of the self-styled caliphate of Islamic State (ISIS) in December 2017, but the security remains fragile in the country, except for the territories in the Kurdistan Region.

ISIS militants perpetrated 456 terrorist acts in 2019, 270 in 2020 and 51 acts in the first three months of 2021, according to Jabbar Yawar, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

(Zhyan English)