Rudaw

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Talks resume on resolving security in disputed territories

Talks have taken place between US officials and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the deteriorating security situation in the disputed territories, vulnerable to attacks from the Islamic State (ISIS).

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani received Ernest Tucker, Chief Defense Officer and the Military Attache to the American Embassy in Iraq on Tuesday, in which both sides discussed the ways to fill the security vacuum in the disputed territories by increasing the military coordination between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

“In the meeting, both sides discussed the situation in Iraq and the importance of coordination between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army,” read an official statement from the KRG.

According to the statement, Barzani stressed his concerns regarding the security vacuum in the disputed areas that jihadists have used as a safe haven from which to launch insurgent attacks.

“Barzani stressed the need for a joint security mechanism between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces, which will pave the way for the return of stability to those areas [disputed territories],” the statement added.

The territories disputed by the two governments comprise areas in Nineveh and the entire provinces of Kirkuk, Saladin, and Diyala. An absence of security forces in the area has created a fertile breeding ground for ISIS to regroup.

ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017. However, remnants of the group continue to operate, returning to earlier insurgency tactics including ambushes, kidnappings and targeted killings across the disputed territories, including Kirkuk.

Military operations have failed to entirely clear their presence, and military bodies worldwide have warned the group is still re-surging.

Several Kakai villagers were killed in an ISIS attack in Khanaqin last week, prompting Kurdish leaders to renew calls for joint security coordination in the disputed territories.

Jabar Yawar, chief of staff at the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, warned earlier in April that the ISIS resurgence has been underway for some time.

“According to our data, the group increased its activities in 2018 and 2019, especially in Kurdistani areas outside of the Kurdistan Region administration, including Diyala, Hamrin, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Qarachogh. In Qarachogh, they even established bases,” Yawar told Rudaw. Source