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.
The Islamic State claims to have carried out 12 suicide bombings south and east of Mosul during the first hours of the battle to retake the city. However, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) claims that the suicide attackers were neutralized. The so-called caliphate has increasingly relied on its “martyrs” as it has lost ground in the past.
The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has claimed 729 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya since the beginning of the year. The figures for August indicate that 81 suicide attacks were carried out in these three countries. If the statistics are accurate, then the self-declared “caliphate” is carrying out suicide bombings at a historically high rate.
Kurdish forces have entered the Iraqi town of Sinjar, which was seized by the Islamic State in August 2014. The offensive in Sinjar is part of a broader operation intended to disrupt the Islamic State’s supply lines running from Iraq into Syria.
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