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

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. 

 


UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

Updated 52 min 14 sec ago

UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

  • Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east
  • Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves

GENEVA: The United Nations said Friday that the two sides in Libyan military talks had reached a “historic achievement” with a permanent cease-fire agreement across the war-torn North African country.
After mediation this week led by UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point toward peace and stability in Libya.”
Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.
Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers. The country was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The road to a permanent cease-fire deal was often long and difficult,” Williams, a former US State Department official, said in Arabic at the signing ceremony.
“Before us is a lot of work in the coming days and weeks in order to implement the commitments of the agreement,” she said. “It is essential to continue work as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many problems due to this conflict facing the Libyan people.”
“We have to give people hope of a better future,” Williams added. She expressed hope the agreement will succeed “in ending the suffering of Libyans and allowing those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes.”
Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation and a field commander for the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, said: “We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed ... We hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south.”
“I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand,” he said, warning about polarization by factions.
The meetings this week mark the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under Williams’ watch. The Geneva-based military talks come ahead of a political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
On Wednesday, Williams had said the two warring factions agreed on issues that “directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people,” citing agreements to open air and land routes in the country, to work to ease inflammatory rhetoric in Libyan media, and to help kickstart Libya’s vital oil industry.
Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern-based forces.
Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, the seat of the UN-supported government in the west. But his campaign collapsed in June.
Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.