Iraqi forces gear up for fresh anti-Daesh ops in Kirkuk

Originally published on Middle East Monitor

Following recent recapture of Tal Afar, Iraqi army set sights on Kirkuk’s Daesh-held Al-Hawija district

Members of Iraqi army are seen during the fight against Daesh militants in al-Ayadiya, northwest of Tal Afar, Iraq August 28, 2017 [Thaier Al-Sudani / Reuters]

Members of Iraqi army are seen during the fight against Daesh militants in al-Ayadiya, northwest of Tal Afar, Iraq August 28, 2017 [Thaier Al-Sudani / Reuters]

Iraq’s military has redeployed troops from Baghdad to Kirkuk for a fresh campaign aimed at retaking Kirkuk’s Al-Hawija district from the Daesh terrorist group, the Defence Ministry said Saturday.

In a statement, the ministry said that additional units of the Iraqi Federal Police (IFP) had been sent from the capital to participate in the upcoming operation.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Police Captain Jabbar Hassan said that army troops and IFP units had arrived in Mosul’s southern Al-Qayyarah district on Saturday after being withdrawn from recently-liberated Tal Afar in Nineveh province.

According to Hassan, these forces will be employed in the planned campaign to retake Al-Hawija in southern Kirkuk.

“Most of the troops who participated in the liberation of Tal Afar will participate in the Hawija campaign,” Army First Lieutenant Fayeq Numan al-Salim told Anadolu Agency.

Read: Daesh attack on power plant leaves 15 dead in northern Iraq

Along with army and police units, the Al-Hawija campaign will also likely include Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi (a Shia fighting force incorporated into the army last year) and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, according to the military officer. Al-Salim said:

Preparations for the campaign began several weeks ago, but they were stepped up following the recent recapture of Tal Afar

He went on to predict a “speedy victory” over Daesh in Al-Hawija, “similar what we saw in Tal Afar”.

Late last month, Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition captured the Tal Afar district in Nineveh province following a 10-day campaign.

A predominantly Turkmen district, Tal Afar was overrun by the terrorist group – along with large territories in northern and western Iraq – in mid-2014.

 

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