Today’s clashes in Ninewa and Erbil are just the latest in a recent series between Iraqi forces, Iranian-backed Shia militias, and Kurdish Peshmerga forces over disputed areas in northern Iraq.
The Iraqi government quickly capitalized on its victory against the Islamic State in the adjacent city of Hawija and turned its energy on the secessionist Kurds in Kirkuk. The rapid offensive exposes deep fault lines in the anti-Islamic State coalition and within Kurdish politics.
As tensions mount between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, several Iranian-backed group have deployed more troops to contested areas near Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu. As both sides remain steadfast in their claims to the oil rich province, tensions continue to mount and the risk of military escalation rises.