Iraq launches major anti-Daesh offensive

In this October 12, 2016 file photo, a convoy of Iraqi security forces advances on the outskirts of Mosul, to fight against Daesh militants, in Kirkuk, Iraq. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 July 2018
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Iraq launches major anti-Daesh offensive

  • Dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs,” the operation will see the army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down Daesh cells in the center of the country.
  • The operation marked the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the peshmerga were working together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum.

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces launched a major operation against remnants of Daesh on Wednesday following public anger over the murder of a group of abducted civilians.

Dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs,” the operation will see the army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down Daesh cells in the center of the country, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

It comes after the bodies of eight Daesh captives were found late last month along a highway north of Baghdad. Some of the abductees had appeared in a video in which Daesh threatened to execute them unless Baghdad released female prisoners.

The JOC statement said army, federal police, special forces, peshmerga fighters and the Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force had launched “a vast operation to clear out the region east of the Diyala-Kirkuk” highway.

The operation was being supported by the Iraqi air force and the US-led coalition that intervened against Daesh in Iraq and Syria after the terrorist group seized control of large parts of both countries in 2014.

One militant had already been killed and eight captured, the JOC said, and equipment including vehicles and bombs destroyed.

The operation marked the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the peshmerga were working together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December after expelling the militants from all major towns and cities in a vast offensive.

But the Iraqi military has kept up operations targeting mostly remote desert areas from where terrorists continue to carry out attacks.

Prime Minister Haider Abadi had vowed to avenge the eight civilians killed by Daesh and ordered the execution of hundreds of convicted militants. Thirteen terrorists on death row were executed last week. 

 


Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

Updated 26 May 2019
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Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

  • Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias
  • Among these are the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen

JEDDAH: Iran needs to dismantle its proxies and end its interventions in Arab affairs before seeking to normalize relations with its Gulf neighbors, a political expert told Arab News on Sunday.

“The Gulf countries have been calling for normal relations with their neighbors for years, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears on the Iranian side,” Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said.

Accusing Tehran of “playing games,” Al-Shehri described Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s suggestion that Iran wanted to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors as worthless “as long as it continues meddling in the affairs of other countries, and fails to halt its evil militias from sabotaging and destabilizing regional security.”

Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias, which indirectly supports, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. 

Zarif, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq, told a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Al-Hakim that Iran wants to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

However, Al-Shehri said that Tehran needs to address three key issues — its nuclear program; its terrorist militias, which have been spreading chaos in the Gulf region and beyond; and its ballistic missile program — before making any such proposals.

“The question is, would Iran be ready to give up all three files? If they want their neighbors to accept them and normalize relations with them, they have to be honest and stop playing games,” he said.

Al-Shehri described Zarif’s regional tour as an attempt to rally support and send a false message that Iran has friends and allies who would stand by them in their crisis with the US.

“Where were these countries when Iran’s terrorist proxies in Yemen, the Houthi militias, launched missiles and drones attacking the holiest Islamic site in Makkah and other Saudi facilities?” Al-Shehri asked.

Zarif said Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

“We will defend (ourselves) against any war efforts, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the US following this month’s sabotage attack on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington and other regional allies have concluded that Iran is most likely behind the attacks. 

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the US has sent an aircraft carrier and extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns over the risk of conflict in the volatile region.