ISIS emir killed in joint Kurdish-US operation near Kirkuk

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In this file photo, Kurdish Peshmerga forces are seen on the left, and ISIS militants on the right. Credit: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News 

Kirkuk – A joint operation by the Kurdistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and the US-led coalition took out ISIS emir Taha Mohamed al-Obaidi, also known as Dr. Moawiya in Haijwa, west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq last Thursday, officials confirmed on Monday.

“Al-Obadi was Chief Emir of ISIS’s Health Department (Diwan) in Kirkuk Province and responsible for killing tens of civilians in Kirkuk province. He took part in the martyrdom of four Peshmerga in January 2015 and played a key part in harming Kurdish Yezidi women in Hawija,” the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said in a statement, without providing more details.

The Kurdish Counter-Terrorism Department and the US-led coalition cooperate since August 2014 to remove ISIS leadership from the battlefield. They started to carry out joint operations in 2015.

The Kurds have provided intelligence to the US-led coalition which led to targeted airstrikes taking out local senior ISIS leaders such as Mullah Shwan in September 2015 near Hawija and Falah al-Kurdi in October 2015.

Furthermore, a joint Kurdish-American Special Forces operation in October 2015 freed 70 hostages from an ISIS prison in Hawija, in which one US soldier was killed.

Late December, Kurdish and US Special Forces carried out another operation in Riyadh in which Hussein Umair Assafi, an ISIS local commander was killed.

Speaking to ARA News, Ceng Sagnic, a researcher with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said the cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and the US-led coalition against ISIS is not surprising.

“There’s a joint operation room in Erbil [capital of Iraqi Kurdistan] and all these airstrikes are coordinated from there,” he said. “The coalition makes significant use of KRG intelligence that has established its ground networks in other parts of Iraq prior to the ISIS expansion into this country.”

“Most of those intelligence networks were in use for the surveillance of Iraqi and Sunni insurgent movements, but are now used against ISIS. Another factor is the KRG’s strong relations with the Sunni tribes in Nineveh, leaders of which are mostly based in Erbil. These contacts give the KRG the ability to gather intelligence from local sources,” the security analyst told ARA News.

The Iraqi Kurds have a historical relation of working with US forces to defeat Islamist groups.

In March 2003, Kurdish Peshmerga forces in coordination with US Special Forces killed a great number of senior leaders from the extremist Ansar al-Islam group in Halabja and destroyed their emirate.

When ISIS took Mosul in August 2014, many Ansar al-Islam militants joined ISIS. Now, the Kurds work again with the Americans to take out ISIS leadership.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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