ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman discussed the current threat of the Islamic State (IS) regrouping in Iraq with Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil on Tuesday.
Silliman, along with Ken Gross, the US Consul General in Erbil, spoke with Barzani about the latest developments in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, as well as extending their condolences on the death of the top Kurdish official's twin brother last week.
According to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) press office, Silliman and Barzani spoke about the current situation in the region, the upcoming Iraqi election, and recent developments in Erbil-Baghdad relations. Regarding the latter, both sides are said to have emphasized the importance of the continuation of dialogue to resolve disputes.
They also discussed the immediate threat posed by the re-emergence of IS and related violence in the country, both sides again underlining the importance of dialogue and cooperation between all parties involved.
Although Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over IS in 2017, the group continues to carry out an insurgency as it did prior to 2014, with regular bombings and attacks in cities across Iraq.
Activities of the jihadist group are becoming more and more common in recent months, with a variety of tactics that include using fake security checkpoints to kidnap residents and Iraqi security force members, most recently in the provinces of Kirkuk and Diyala, where two IS leaders have been reported killed.
Peshmerga, who were forced by Iraqi forces and the pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi militias to withdraw from disputed territories in those provinces have repeatedly warned of the possibility of IS making a comeback in these and other areas.
On Wednesday, Iraqi security forces discovered large amounts of explosives beneath an ancient citadel in Nineveh province, preventing an apparent IS plan to destroy it.
The day before, Prime Minister Abadi said in a speech that Iraq would take “all necessary measures” to prevent-cross border assaults by IS in Syria.
Editing by John J. Catherine