Iraqi forces launch offensive against new militant outfit in north
Iraq’s armed forces have launched a large-scale military operation along a planned oil transit route in the north against a new militant outfit reportedly comprised of Daesh remnants and Kurdish mafia elements.
Iraqi army and police forces, backed by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, started the campaign in coordination with the Kurdish Peshmerga troops in the cities of Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu on Wednesday.
“With the goal of enforcing security and stability, destroying sleeper cells, and continuing clearing operations, an operation was launched in the early hours of this morning to search and clear areas east of Tuz Khurmato,” the Iraqi armed forces said in a statement.
Shortly after the beginning of the operation, Iraqi media reported that the government forces had managed to liberate two villages from the grip of the militants.
The so-called White Flags militant outfit was formed in late 2017 when the Daesh terror group was on its last legs in the face of Iraqi army advances.
It has bases in Iraq’s mountains and highlands and uses a banner depicting a black lion on a white background.
Some reports have put the number of its elements at hundreds, less than one thousand. It is said to be an alliance of former Daesh terrorists and disgruntled Kurdish mafia members.
PMU spokesman Ali al-Hussieni told the al-Sabah newspaper on Tuesday that the military campaign was aimed at Daesh remnants and White Flag militants.
“The troops received accurate intelligence reports on the locations of those terrorists, who have committed several violations in Iraq,” he added.