Rudaw

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Peshmerga-Iraq cooperation will ‘close that gap,’ cut off ISIS: Coalition

The establishment of Joint Coordination Centres between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces will “close that gap” and cut off Islamic State group (ISIS) remnants that are taking advantage of a security vacuum, the spokesperson for the global coalition against ISIS told Rudaw on Sunday.

“There has been that gap along the KCL [Kurdish Coordination Line], I believe it’s about 20 kilometres where Daesh [ISIS] has had a free flow of movement. And with the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] and the Peshmerga working together, that should close that gap,” said Col. Wayne Marotto.

“Daesh is not going to have the opportunity to travel freely through there because now it’s going to be closed,” he added. “This should help out in the Coalition’s defeat Daesh mission.”

There is a security void in areas between the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq where forces of neither side operate and ISIS militants have free rein to operate. After deadly attacks on Iraqi and Peshmerga forces this spring, Erbil and Baghdad agreed this month to coordinate on security in these areas. A Joint Cooperation Centre was established in Diyala province last week and on Sunday Peshmerga officers will begin working with Iraqi forces at Kirkuk’s K1 military base.

Another two centres will be established in Makhmour and Nineveh province.

Their cooperation will be limited to coordination and collecting intelligence to counter ISIS. Maj. Gen. Qaraman Kamal, vice chief of staff of Peshmerga forces, has called for an expanded cooperation, forming a joint force as well.

The Coalition will continue its support, Marotto said, “providing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, logistic supplies and also air power.”

The United States will also continue its program providing equipment and stipends for Iraqi and Peshmerga forces, he added.

ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017 and across the border in Syria two years later, but remnants of the group remain a security threat.

“They are doing hit-and-run tactics, they’re doing assassinations, kidnappings, murdering. It’s really an insurgency that they have right now. That poisonous ideology that they have is still out there, but militarily they control no territory,” said Marotto.

“So anytime we can work better as partners with the one goal we have, that’s to defeat Daesh and Daesh remnants, it just makes it better.”