ISIS moving to Mt. Qarachoogh for ‘hideout’ opportunities, says Maj. Gen. Sirwan Barzani
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Commander of the Sector 6 Front, Major-General Sirwan Barzani, on Monday told Kurdistan 24 on the sidelines of MEPS 2023 that the forum is of “great importance,” particularly at a time when the Middle East is experiencing conflict and tension.
“The tensions in Gaza and Israel affect the Kurdistan Region. The Coalition came here at the request of Iraq. They left after 2011 and then returned at the request of Iraq. They are here to assist us in the fight against terrorism. We need them both as the Peshmerga and as the Iraqi army,” the commander stated.
Regarding the ISIS presence in Makhmour, Barzani said that ISIS is moving to Mount Qarachoogh as the area provides more “hideouts” and stealth opportunities. “We have conducted several operations with the Iraqi forces [to eradicate ISIS], but to no avail. They're coming back.”
"Intelligence exchange between the Coalition forces, the Peshmerga Ministry, and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense continues to be of great help because neither the Peshmerga nor the Iraqi army have the technology they have," he added.
The lingering remnants of ISIS have been a focal point of the Coalition's continuing insistence to regional actors to colloborate in defeating the group. This has proven challenging in light of the outbreak of violence in Gaza, which has led to spillover of proxy conflicts against US and Coalition installations in retaliation for the West's support of Israel, ultimately hampering efforts to allocate resources in the fight against ISIS.
The terror group has increasingly resorted to guerilla warfare and "hit-and-run" style attacks, which contrasts sharply from when it was at the height of its power, seizing advanced heavy weaponry and tanks from Western-backed Syrian rebels and the Iraqi Armed Forces.
Barzani leads Sector 6, also known as the Gwer-Makhmour Front, which was a historically critical stronghold against the advance of ISIS in the summer of 2014. With US and Coalition air support, Barzani’s Peshmerga unit, known as “Piling Res,” or Black Tiger, contributed heavily in defending Erbil province from an ISIS blitzkrieg in Aug. 2014, and his unit was an integral part of the eventual territorial defeat of the terror group in the country in 2017.
The Major-General is also the CEO of Korek Telecom, one of the “Big Three” of telecommunications companies in Iraq, along with AsiaCell and Zain, providing access to a modern, mobile network infrastructure in the country.
Founded in 2000, Korek Telecom has very often been embroiled in legal disputes with Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC). Central to the disputes is the enforcement of Iraqi media laws and tax regulations, to which Korek has often refuted as having only partial jurisdiction in the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
"There is no problem between Korek Telecom and other telecommunication companies. The problem is with the CMC and the problem has long been enduring," he clarified.
"Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani has decided to form a committee in the Iraqi Parliament. The committee met with representatives of Korek Telecom and the results of the committee meeting will be announced soon," Barzani concluded.