Kurdistan Commander: Peshmerga ready for Hawija liberation, awaiting on Iraq decision

Commander: Peshmerga ready for Hawija liberation, awaiting on Iraq decision
Peshmerga forces standing guard near Hawija in Kirkuk Province, Aug. 9, 2016. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – A Peshmerga commander declared that the Peshmerga forces are ready to retake the Islamic State (IS)-held city of Hawija, 30 kilometers west of Kirkuk.

General Sirwan Barzani, the Commander of Peshmerga forces in Makhmour and on the Gwer frontline, said on Wednesday that Peshmerga forces are awaiting the start of the operation to retake Hawija from IS, stating the operation will start once an agreed plan between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq is laid out.

Barzani added that similar to the Mosul liberation operation, there will be an agreement between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi forces wherein Peshmerga would liberate the Kurdish areas surrounding Hawija while the Iraqi forces would focus on the Arab areas and the center of the city.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, he mentioned that similar to the agreement regarding areas of the Ninevah Plains, Peshmerga forces would not be withdrawing from areas they retake from the militant group.

Sirwan Barzani reiterated the Peshmerga's readiness to oust IS extremists from their stronghold in southern Kirkuk, specifying that “the Iraqi forces are not yet ready due to the ongoing military operation in Mosul.”

The head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council Rebwar Talabani previously told Kurdistan24 the delay in retaking Hawija from IS has left them wondering whether the reason is a military or a politically driven tactic.

He also mentioned Kurdish Peshmerga forces were ready to liberate Hawija as soon as they are commanded to do so by the leadership of the Kurdistan Region.

Editing by G.H. Renaud