Iraqi troops, militias launch offensive in north of the country

Iraqi troops, militias launch offensive in north of the country
Iraqi rapid intervention forces advance as they take part in an operation against terrorists east of Tuz Khurmatu on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2018

Iraqi troops, militias launch offensive in north of the country

Iraqi troops, militias launch offensive in north of the country

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces, Peshmerga and Shiite-dominated paramilitaries have launched a military offensive against Daesh fighters and Kurdish rebel groups hiding out in the north of the country.
The operation, which started yesterday (Wednesday), is targeting a mountainous region near the city of Tuz Khurmato in Salahuddin province. It is being backed by US air support.
Kareem Al-Nuri, a senior commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella organization of mainly Shia militias, told reporters his forces would “clean” the area of insurgents.
“We are ready to go after them in the plains, hills and villages. We will take all required measures to secure the area and end this nightmare,” he said.
Tuz Khurmato is an ethnically diverse city with a majority Turkmen population. Its importance to the government and insurgent groups lies in its strategic location. Situated in a part of the country hotly contested by Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan, it has been the subject of growing unrest.
The acting mayor, Najat Hussein, told Arab News Kurdish militants, Daesh and the radical militant group Ansar Al-Islam were responsible for months of sustained violence in the area.
Already yesterday the Iraqi military and the PMF were circulated videos showing tunnels, bunkers and caves they claimed to have captured from insurgents.
However, the operation comes less than a month after the Iraqi parliament voted to establish a multi-ethnic committee to investigate allegations of atrocities carried out last October by Iraqi troops, Peshmerga and the PMF in Tuz Khurmato.
Amnesty International said that “hundreds of homes and shops in Kurdish-majority neighborhoods were looted, set on fire and destroyed,” during the previous offensive.
“Within minutes, thousands of people lost their homes, shops and everything they owned,” it added.