ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A warplane of the US-led coalition on Saturday targeted Islamic State (IS) militants on the outskirts of Erbil Province, killing five, said a Kurdish Peshmerga official.
“The coalition jet struck six militants of Da’esh (IS) in the village of Kushaf, killing five,” said Sirwan Barzani, a Peshmerga Commander responsible for the area, in an interview with Kurdistan 24.
Kushaf, sometimes spelled Kashaf, lies along the Tigris River in western Makhmour. It is near the border of Nineveh, the Iraqi province in which Mosul is located.
“Based on our information, these militants clashed with Iraqi SWAT forces before the coalition warplane struck them,” Barzani added.
Following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, Makhmour and its surrounding villages came under the protection of the Peshmerga forces. It was one of the most active front lines, regularly targeted by the extremist group.
Since mid-Oct. 2017, the region has come under the control of Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias following an attack against the Kurdish forces and military takeover of disputed territories.
Despite Iraq declaring victory over IS last December, the group continues to launch insurgency-style attacks, kidnappings, and ambushes in provinces including Nineveh, Anbar, Baghdad, and the disputed areas of Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salahuddin.
Makhmour is also the site of a UN-aided refugee camp that houses over 12,000 Kurds, many of whom fled Turkey during its decades-long conflict the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened that his country's military could strike the camp on the grounds it had become "a breeding ground" for the PKK.
"If Iraq says we will solve this, then perfect. But if not, then we will hit Sinjar and Qandil. And I am saying this for the first time; Makhmour. Makhmour is very important. If not solved we will hit it," Erdogan told the media.
Editing by John J. Catherine