ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Prime Minister of Iraq on Monday arrived in the province of Diyala in a bid to boost morale in a region which has witnessed an alarmingly growing number of insurgency-style attacks carried out by the Islamic State (IS).
Haider al-Abadi traveled to the beleaguered province to hold a meeting with security commanders at the Diyala operations headquarters, according to a press release from his media office.
Abadi’s visit comes as Iraqi forces struggle to beat back the apparent resurgence of the jihadist group in the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk, and Salahuddin.
With the support of the US-led coalition, Iraqi forces recently launched a military operation targeting IS in desert areas in disputed territories.
In the past few months, the area has witnessed an upsurge in attacks and kidnappings by the jihadist group. The most recent incident which grabbed the nation’s attention saw the abduction and execution of eight Iraqi security members by IS on the Kirkuk – Baghdad road.
Despite Abadi declaring “final victory” over IS last December, the group continues to carry out attacks, assassinations, and kidnappings in previously liberated areas and in disputed regions where the security situation has significantly deteriorated since the forced withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in October 2017.
Residents of the affected areas have voiced their concerns regarding the precarious security situation and have called for the return of the Peshmerga forces.
The road connecting Baghdad to the Kurdistan Region has in the past been known as the “Highway of Death,” a nickname some worry is being earned anew.
Peshmerga officials have repeatedly called for coordination with their Iraqi counterparts, warning officials that IS is regrouping in Kirkuk and neighboring southern provinces.
Iraqi forces have been in control of Kirkuk and the southern areas since mid-October after they drove out the Peshmerga from disputed territories in a military operation supported by Shia militias and mandated by Abadi.
Editing by Nadia Riva