CJTF-OIR made the statement despite the fact that it was abundantly obvious that the Iraqi government sought to seize Kirkuk from the Kurdish Peshmerga, and had signaled its intentions days before.
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.
Islamic State forces still control a small pocket of villages to the north and east of the town, but are now surrounded.
The Iraqi government launched a new offensive against the Islamic State in the Hawijah pocket earlier today. Hawijah is considered one of the group’s two remaining strongholds inside Iraq. The other is in the western Anbar province, where the Iraqi government began new operations on Sept. 19.
The Iraqi government announced the liberation of Tal Afar in northern Iraq earlier today. The offensive to retake the city began on Aug. 20 and progressed quickly. Three Iraqi army divisions, the Counterterrorism Service, Federal Police, the Popular Mobilization Forces and Kurdish Regional Government Peshmerga all took part and were backed by the US-led coalition.
Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve said that Iraq’s Iranian-backed militias “deserve a share of the credit for their sacrifices” in the battle to liberate Mosul, yet calls for Iraqis to unite to prevent the return of the Islamic State.
Along with Iran, Hezbollah helped the PMF “with training and planning, and with weapons and equipment” to the Popular Mobilization Forces with the knowledge of Iraq’s prime minister, according to Abu Mahdi al Muhandis.
The establishment of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) is an extension of Iran’s plan to export the revolution, which keeps war against Sunni extremists from reaching the country’s borders, a senior adviser to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force argues.