The New Mail Erbil, Kurdistan – since August 2014, Kurds in northern Iraq have been a part of the battle against the terrorist organization called Islamic State.
This conflict reached its height when the city of Sinjar, to the west of Mosul, fell under control of IS, leaving the Kurdish Yazidi people facing a genocide by IS militants. In the beginning, IS advanced and controlled many Kurdish territories around Mosul but it didn’t take long before Kurdish forces reorganized themselves and pushed the IS militants back.
The Kurdish peshmerga forces took over all the areas previously controlled by IS. The last advance of peshmerga forces involved retaking the city of Sinjar at the end of 2015.
The international coalition against Islamic State supported Kurdish forces in this, but not as much as they required. Kurdish leaders have found themselves continuously asking the international coalition for more military support.
The city of Mosul, which is the heart of Islamic State and the second largest city in Iraq, is only 84km away from the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Mosul is semi-surrounded by Kurdish forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces have strongly responded to IS attacks. They are fighting IS near Mosul, leaving Islamic State militants fully suppressed.
In some front lines, the distance between the battlefield and Mosul is less than 20km. The liberation of Mosul is getting closer, but Iraqi’s Sunni population has rejected the participation of Shia militants in the battle.
Without them, the Iraqi army seems to be weak against IS, with the latest operations of the Iraqi army in Mosul only demonstrating this fact. Unfortunately, Sunni groups that are trained by the international coalition are not fully trusted by the Iraqi government.
Kurds are the key to the liberation of Mosul. First of all, they are close enough to Mosul that neither the Iraqi army nor Sunni groups can attack Mosul without their permission. Secondly, they are most effective ground troops against IS. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the Kurds don’t have the religious and doctrinal problems with Sunni people that some Shia groups do.
These Shia groups sometimes make revenge their top priority in their warfare against Islamic State in Sunni territories. Kurds are willing to participate in the battle, but they have insisted that the international coalition and Iraqi government assist in properly arming their forces as a part of that effort.
The United States has agreed to arm two units of peshmerga forces, which contain nearly 7,000 soldiers. The fight for Mosul is now only a matter of time, but the liberation of Mosul without the Kurds will be almost impossible.
By Adham Moshin Badli