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ERBIL – The Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group is losing ground in norther Iraq and “unable to resist for long”, said a top commander in the Peshmerga army of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In an exclusive interview with ARA News, Brigadier General Talat Saleh Zarari of the Kurdish Peshmerga army said their recent gains in Nineveh province “reflect the gradual collapse of ISIS”.
“Under heavy blows by the Peshmerga, ISIS is getting weaker day by day. With the constant advance by our units and allied forces in northern Iraq, ISIS appears unable to resist for long,” he said.
Zarari pointed out that the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes on ISIS tactical units has facilitated the Peshmerga progress.
“Our movements on the ground are coordinated with the western coalition, which has helped the Peshmerga make remarkable gains against ISIS in the recent weeks,” he told ARA News.
Subsequent to fierce battles with ISIS militants, the Kurdish Peshmerga troops have recently recaptured the Yezidi region of Shingal (Sinjar) and other areas near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
Regarding the ongoing battle for Mosul, the Peshmerga commander said that Iraqi army forces are currently deployed in the Makhmur district in southern Irbil “as part of the military preparations aimed at liberating Mosul”.
“According to the initial military plan, the Iraqi army would bear the responsibility of fighting ISIS inside the city of Mosul, while the Kurdish Peshmerga combats ISIS militants in the suburbs,” Zarari told ARA News. “However, we may send reinforcements to central Mosul in case the Iraqi army encountered any difficulties during the battle.”
The official denied reports about ongoing disputes and clashes between the Kurdish army and Shiite militia of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Kirkuk.
“The Peshmerga tries to avoid any clashes with Iraqi groups that participate in the war on ISIS,” he said.
“Our main target at the moment is ISIS,” Zarari insisted. “Eliminating this dangerous terror organization would be a victory not only for the Kurds, but also for all Iraqi people and the entire region.”
Asked about the delivery of American heavy weapons to the Peshmerga, the commander said: “We have been promised, but we are still waiting to receive such weapons.”
“The Peshmerga forces operate with a high morale. We are optimistic that ISIS would be defeated soon and peace would return to this region,” Zarari concluded.
Reporting by: Sozbin Cheleng
Source: ARA News
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