Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced that the country’s government forces will cooperate with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to liberate Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh from ISIL Takfiri militants.
“Our visit in Erbil is to cooperate and coordinate on a joint plan to liberate the people of Nineveh,” Abadi told a joint press conference with president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, in Erbil on Monday.
“We have common agreements and understandings that liberating Nineveh is the responsibility of all of us,” Abadi said, adding, “There is a time frame to liberate Nineveh province from Daesh (ISIL), but we want to keep the element of surprise.”
He stated that there are communications with some Nineveh residents who want to cooperate with Iraqi security forces in the campaign against ISIL terrorists.
Barzani, for his part, said Kurdish authorities have formed a committee of joint operation with Baghdad to liberate Nineveh, but KRG is “waiting for the start of the offensive.”
On March 31, Abadi said government forces, backed by Shia and Sunni volunteer fighters, had wrested control of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad, from ISIL Takfiris. Tikrit is the administrative center of Salahuddin Province, which lies south of Nineveh Province.
Tikrit had been seized by ISIL in June last year. The city’s recapture now paves the way for the Iraqi army to take control of the country’s second-largest city and ISIL stronghold, Mosul.
ISIL started its campaign of terror in Iraq in early June 2014. The heavily-armed militants took control of the city of Mosul before sweeping through parts of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland.
Iraqi soldiers, police units, Kurdish forces, Shia volunteers and Sunni tribesmen have recently succeeded in driving the terrorists out of some areas in Iraq.