A Peshmerga official on Saturday said Kurdish and Iraqi security forces have made good progress in their collective efforts to counter Islamic State (ISIS) militants, forming joint operation centers in disputed areas, but the establishment of a joint brigade will be delayed until after the election. Their combined efforts raise hopes of putting an end to the activities of the militant group in Iraq.
The brigades would have been formed by now “if it wasn’t for this year’s October 10 elections,” Deputy Peshmerga Minister Sarbast Lazgin said in a press conference.
Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on October 10.
Joint operation centers in Khanaqin, Kirkuk, Makhmour, and western Nineveh have been formed and security and military cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad is headed down a good path, Lazgin added.
“The two main centers in Erbil and Baghdad are active and have been operational for a while,” he said.
The Peshmerga ministry announced in July they were working on the formation of two joint brigades of Iraqi and Peshmerga forces to counter ISIS remnants in the disputed areas, cooperating in order to reduce the threat of the group’s resurgence.
ISIS seized control of swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The group was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019, but remains a threat on both sides of the border, carrying out bombings, hit-and-run attacks, and abductions across several provinces. The group has also exploited the security gap that exists between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga in disputed areas claimed by both sides. The increased ISIS activity is pushing the two forces to increase coordination.
The two brigades will be fully under the control of the federal government, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Peshmerga Jabar Yawar told Shkoi Kurdistan English on Wednesday.
“Peshmerga forces will be transferred to these brigades and become part of the Iraqi forces. They will no longer remain as Peshmerga but be affiliated to Iraqi Armed Forces Command. The force that will be formed will include Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and other groups. It is not a Kurdish or Arab force,” Yawar stated.
In the latest edition of its weekly propaganda magazine al-Nabaa, ISIS claimed it carried out 22 attacks in Iraq, killing and injuring 49 people.