Erbil (IraqiNews.com) The Kurdish Peshmerga troops said it will not take part in liberation of Hawija, the Islamic State’s holdout in southwestern Kirkuk.
“Iraqi troops will not advance from the common borders with Peshmerga to liberate Hawija,” Lt.Gen.Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Peshmerga Ministry, said on Thursday in press remarks. “Operations started today from Shirqat, in Salahuddin, while Hawija while be the last region to be liberated within the operation.”
“Peshmerga will not participate in liberation of Hawija but will protect its defense lines in order not to allow IS militants approach areas where troops are deployed,” he added.
Earlier on the day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Lt.Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, deputy commander of the Joint Operations Command announced launch of first phase of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat. Several villages in Shirqat have been retaken.
In remarks earlier this month, Yawar denied news circulated in media over military tension between Peshmerga and the federal government over Hawija.
Kurdistan previously declared intentions to include Hawija within the referendum, slated for September 25.
Hawija and other neighboring regions, west of Kirkuk, have been held by IS since mid-2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.