ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A recent boost in insurgent attacks by remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq's disputed territories require the security cooperation of both the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said a Kurdish minister on Sunday.
KRG Minister of Peshmerga Shorish Ismael made the comments as he visited Peshmerga forces outside the town of Kalar during the holy Muslim observance of Eid of Al-Adha to congratulate the Kurdish troops protecting the region.
In response to a question asked by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Harem Jaff regarding Peshmerga plans to counter increasing Islamic State attacks in disputed areas, Ismael stated that he would meet with an Iraqi military delegation from Baghdad after the conclusion of the holiday.
“Our talks will continue, and I am hopeful that our meetings will restart with the high-level Iraqi security delegation after Eid,” Ismael told Kurdistan 24.
“The reality here, and the overall security situation, requires that we and the Iraqi army maintain a strong relationship to fill and control the existing security vacuums together and prevent terrorists from making a resurgence.”
Speaking of the recent spike in evacuations by nearby villagers in the disputed territories due to the threat of Islamic State attacks, the Kurdish minister noted that he would soon visit the areas along with various Peshmerga commanders to address villagers’ concerns.
“Of course, the security vacuum has created a golden opportunity for the terrorists to regroup and reemerge. They’ve already begun to do this and I am sure they will carry out more attacks, should we fail to stop them,” Ismael told reporters.
Following clashes between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the wake of the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence in late 2017, Islamic State fighters have taken advantage of the hostility and lack of proper cooperation between the two, namely in and around the disputed territories.
Over the past eight months, Kurdish and Iraqi military delegations have conducted meetings in both Erbil and Baghdad with the purpose of creating more coordination and cooperation against the extremist group, but have been unable to incapacitate the group despite Iraq’s military victory against it, announced at the end of 2017.
Most of the disputed areas were under the protection of the Peshmerga and other Kurdish security forces at the time of the emergence of the Islamic State in 2014 or shortly thereafter, but the attack by Iraqi forces and Shia militias in Oct. 2017 pushed Kurdish forces from the disputed territories, leading to a decrease in effective security measures.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Harem Jaff)