In Rudaw

Baghdad and Erbil reach ‘joint military work’ agreement amid ISIS surge

Iraq and the Kurdistan Region reached an agreement on Thursday to resume joint military work in territories they both claim, in a bid to curb a continued Islamic State (ISIS) resurgence.

The agreement was reached at a high-level meeting between Iraq’s defense ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

“Talks were held and an agreement was reached to reactivate the work of the joint coordination committees on both sides, and to resume the exchange of intelligence concerning ISIS,” Brig. Gen. Tahsin Khafaji, spokesperson for Iraqi Joint Operations Command told Rudaw.

Thursday’s resolution came two weeks after ISIS militants stormed the village of Dara in Khanaqin, a district near the Iranian border. Militants from the extremist militant group killed six Kakai Kurds and a member of the security forces who responded to the firefight.

The deadly attack immediately prompted federal and Kurdistan Region leaders, including Iraqi President Barham Salih and KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, to urge “coordination” between security forces, including the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces, the Shiite-majority Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the Iraqi army to purge the group’s presence in the disputed territories.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew from most of the disputed territories on northern Iraq in October 2017, when Baghdad launched a major operation to retake the area’s security weeks after the Kurdistan Region held an independence referendum.

The two sides have since had a rocky military relationship, failing to lay out plans to jointly run the security of the area, creating a security vacuum in which ISIS militants have been able to run rife.

The Peshmerga delegation visiting Baghdad consisted of Jamal Iminiki, Chief of Staff of the Peshmerga Armed Forces and Jabar Yawar, the general secretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

Yawar told Rudaw that today’s meeting was held “at the request of the Iraqi side”.

“The meeting turned out positively, where we agreed to reactivate our joint coordination,” Yawar said.

The two sides “talked about joint military operations against ISIS in the disputed areas, as well as establishing joint forces or joint defense forces,” Yawar said of the meeting.

Iraqi defense delegations will visit Erbil by the end of July, he added, for further talks on “establishing a mechanism on how to move forward.” Source