ERBIL — The Islamic State (IS) is eradicated from every populated area it once held in Iraq and Syria, but is now resorting to deserts and mountains to regroup and rebirth itself, according to several officials.
Multiple reports recently warned of IS jihadists hiding in Mount Hamrin area and establishing new positions. The jihadists have lost ground and they hope to prepare for a new phase of violence and terrorist attacks.
Mount Hamrin is an area stretched from Diyala province to Kirkuk and southern Nineveh.
Kurdish politician and former member of Iraqi parliament, Mahmoud Othman, told BasNews that the IS leaders and the jihadists who survived the battleground have now resorted to insurgency war in Kirkuk, Nineveh and Anbar provinces.
He argued that the insurgents are focusing on these areas as there is no Peshmerga military presence. The Kurdish forces were pushed back from Kirkuk and other disputed territories in October 2017 after tensions between Erbil and Baghdad started.
On the other hand, as Othman explained, the security forces in Kirkuk are not from the local people, but Hashd al-Shaabi is mainly in charge while the US-led Coalition is not directly supporting them. Also, the IS leaders are Iraqis who are familiar with the geography and the security situation in these areas.
Othman noted that the return of Peshmerga forces to the disputed areas is key to eradicate IS in the region as they are well experienced in the war against insurgent groups and they are well familiar with the geography of the region. Blocking IS financial sources and addressing the root causes of IS emergence are among other top priorities to end the jihadists group.
Last week, the Iraqi army announced that it conducted a massive military operation in Mount Hamrin area and killed an IS leader with four aides. The positions suspected to be used by IS on Hamrin Mountain are also coming under Coalition airstrikes, yet they survive to pose a threat to civilians in the region.