Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Two militants were killed and a large amount of ammunition was seized on Wednesday as Iraqi forces launched an operation against militant group in Tuz Khurmatu region in Salahuddin province, the Iraqi command has said.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said army, police and Popular Mobilization forces combed up to 12 villages in the region, confiscating ammunition from militants’ hideouts.
A statement by the command added that the operation also led to taking over two oil fields, noting that operations were still ongoing.
The Popular Mobilization Forces had declared the launch of an operation to clear Tuz Khurmatu from “outlaws”. Earlier statements by field commanders had said that the operation was particularly targeting the “White Flags”, a nascent entity composed of a number of separatist groups, most notably the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), a militia fighting for Iranian Kurds’ independence.
A home to a mixed Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen population, Tuz Khurmatu was among the disputed regions Iraqi forces seized back from Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces following a referendum the autonomous region held in September to secede from Iraq.
Kurdish politicians have accused Iraqi forces, most notably the PMF, of carrying out forced deportations and inducing a demographic change in Tuz Khurmatu for the favor of Arab ethnicities.
In december, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said its teams had observed signs of possible violations in Tuz Khurmatu, including destroyed homes and businesses in several primarily Kurdish neighbourhoods after Iraqi forces’ takeover in October.