Iraqi army to take years to get rid of ISIL: official
It will take the Iraqi army five years to rid the country completely of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorist group, head of the Peshmerga’s Makhmur-Gawar Front said Tuesday.
Sirwan Barzani’s remarks follow the victory of the Iraqi Peshmerga backed by the U.S.-led international coalition on Dec. 20 in the northwestern Mount Sinjar, where they broke the weeks-long ISIL siege after three days of clashes in Sinjar town in northern Iraq. The area is home to thousands of Ezidi Kurds.
Speaking to The Anadolu Agency on the Gawar Front, some 28 miles (45 kilometers) southwest of Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil, Barzani said the ISIL changed tactics after their defeat around Mount Sinjar and attacked Peshmerga positions in Gawar from three directions with tanks and armored vehicles. The Peshmerga retaliated and the clashes resulted in the deaths of 25 ISIL militants and five Peshmerga.
Barzani, who is also brother of President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Masoud Barzani, said the ISIL had underestimated their power. "They assumed that we cannot answer them without an air offensive by anti-ISIL coalition."
"But we managed to break their attack and burnt their vehicles. We showed them that we could fight without the aerial support," he added.
The commander said his Peshmerga fighters who previously fought on the mountains also gained war experience on plains, saying "all we need is heavy weapons."
He also claimed that ISIL has lost its previous military and financial power, and its militants were demoralized.
Barzani said Peshmerga had liberated 97 percent of Kurdish territories held by ISIL, but said "it seems a long shot" for the Iraqi armed forces to expel ISIL out of the country.
"We managed to save our lands from the ISIL, but it will be harder for the Iraqi central government. Iraqi army cannot drive the terrorist group ISIL out of the region without support from the foreign forces," he said.
ISIL seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, plunging the region into deep crisis since June, when they stormed Iraq's Mosul and declared what it called a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The U.S.-led airstrikes helped the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces to gain more ground from the terrorist group and were now said to be moving closer to the northern city of Mosul.
According to the U.N., an estimated 1.8 million citizens have been internally displaced this year throughout Iraq.
Last Modified: 2014-12-30 14:55:25
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