Iraq Army Says Has Achieved Goals in Kurd Operation
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iraqi government forces said on Wednesday that they had achieved their objectives in a lightning 48-hour operation against Kurdish forces in disputed territory outside the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
On Monday and Tuesday, Iraqi troops retook the northern province of Kirkuk and its oil fields, as well as formerly Kurdish-held areas of Nineveh and Diyala provinces, in a punishing riposte to a Kurdish vote for independence last month.
"Security has been restored in sectors of Kirkuk. Forces have been redeployed and have retaken control of Khanaqin and Jalawla in Diyala province, as well as Makhmur, Bashiqa, Mosul dam, Sinjar and other areas in the Nineveh plains," the federal government's Joint Operations Command said, AFP reported.
Kurdish forces have been holding parts of Iraqi territory since 2014, when Daesh began an offensive across Iraq and the Kurds began fighting it and overrunning territory in the process.
The Baghdad government has long insisted that the Kurds pull out of the territories they had overrun. But the Kurdish militants have refused. Ever since a controversial referendum on secession in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25, the Iraqi government has lost patience, sending security forces to retake Kurdish-held areas, Kirkuk in particular.
The plebiscite took place on September 25, sparking strong objection from Baghdad. Iraq’s neighbors and the international community also voiced concerns about the repercussions of the vote, which was only supported by Israel.
Kirkuk, with some 10 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves, has long been contested by Baghdad and Erbil.