In Rudaw 

ISIS militants killed in joint operation between Iraqi, Kurdish forces: Kurdistan Region VP

Peshmerga forces and Iraqi counter-terrorism units, under the direct supervision of the Kurdistan Region’s vice president, carried out a joint operation against Islamic State (ISIS) remnants in disputed territories on Sunday.

A statement from the Kurdistan Region Vice President Sheikh Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa’s office said on Sunday morning a joint air and land operation between the commando brigades of 70 unit forces (controlled by the Patriot Union of Kurdistan) and Iraqi counter-terrorism forces, with support from coalition forces, attacked ISIS hideouts in the villages of Palkana and Qorichai between the districts of Kifri and Khurmatu.

The operation was under the supervision of the Kurdistan Region’s VP.

“I believe if we continue like today, we will completely defeat ISIS in those areas,” Sheikh Jaafar told Rudaw’s Sangar Abdulrahman on Sunday. “Peshmerga forces are completely ready to cooperate with Iraqi forces wherever there are ISIS militants,” he added.

He also said Iraqi helicopters played a great role during the operation on Sunday.

The statement reported an undisclosed amount of ISIS members were killed and three cars were targeted, adding the operation’s aim is to completely wipe out ISIS in the area.

Iraqi Security Media Cell said the operation was launched at 5 in the morning and was preceded by five airstrikes from F16 fighter jets.

Brig. Gen. Jamal Warani of the Peshmerga forces 144 brigade told Rudaw the operation is ongoing.

“We have found 13 ISIS tunnels so far that they used to hide themselves and their equipment,” Warani told Rudaw’s Hemin Baban, adding Iraqi and Peshmerga forces are carrying out the operation on land and are supported by Italian jets in the sky.

On Wednesday, the VP told Rudaw  their forces had killed six ISIS militants in an offensive, claiming it was “in revenge” for the recent deaths of four Peshmerga troops in ISIS attacks.

Three Kurdish fighters were killed in an ISIS attack on a Peshmerga position in Kirkuk province last month, and two others were injured.

In a more recent attack on May 11, another Peshmerga died one day after he was shot during an ISIS attack on Peshmerga forces in Kifri district.

ISIS militants have exploited a security vacuum in territory disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, including Kirkuk, Nineveh, Diyala and Salahaddin – where sleeper cells have been able to thrive and launch attacks on both military forces and civilians.

After deadly attacks on Iraqi and Peshmerga forces this spring, Erbil and Baghdad agreed in May to coordinate on security in these areas. A Joint Cooperation Centre was established in Diyala province where Peshmerga officers began working with Iraqi forces at Kirkuk’s K1 military base.

Another two centers were established in Makhmour and Nineveh province.

The US Department of Defense has requested $522 million from the 2022 budget for the fight against ISIS in both countries, the defense secretary said, with funds to be used to train and equip those forces that are allied to the US, including Syrian Kurdish forces.

The Pentagon’s requested budget for 2022 is an increase of around $10 billion from 2021. However, the amount committed to battling ISIS has fallen by $188 million from the previous year, despite warnings from commanders and politicians in both Syria and Iraq that the group remains an active threat.