DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:25 P.M.) – The recent independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan has not gone down lightly in Baghdad as the Iraqi Armed Forces have begun a massive offensive against Peshmerga across multiple governorates in northern Iraq.
With the imperative Rabia border crossing into Syria already restored under government control in the morning hours, the Iraqi Army – heavily reinforced by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – also pushed both south and northwest of Kirkuk city on Tuesday in simultaneous pincers that secured the junction towns of Daquq and Dibis. In addition, the Iraqi flag was raised across the long-contested town of Tuz Khormato.
Effectively, Iraqi troops have secured a buffer zone around the provincial capital of Kirkuk, a city which was captured barely 24 hours ago as hundreds of armored vehicles rolled into its streets, prompting a rapid retreat by the Peshmerga (Kurdish Army).
A separate offensive is also underway along the border with Iran; thus far, the Iraqi Army and its allies have liberated the large towns of Jalawla and Kanaqin. This specific advance has allowed government forces to reopen the M5 Highway after Peshmerga checkpoints along the road were dismantled on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army expanded their buffer zone around Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city – by pushing north, east and southeast of the city. So far, the frontier towns of Bashiqah, Tall Asqaf and Gwer have been abandoned by the Peshmerga and restored under government control.
Remarkably, the Iraqi Army has also retaken the famous city of Sinjar after the Peshmerga withdrew from all their positions in western Nineveh, leaving only a few hundred PKK fighters to defend the predominately Kurdish area.
Unfortunately, the renewed hostilities between Erbil and Baghdad have seen a large chunk of the Iraqi Army’s personnel leaving the frontline with ISIS to confront the Peshmerga instead and defuse all separatist attempts.