Barzani congratulates Abadi for Tal Afar, urges continued coordination

Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi discussed the war on ISIS during a phone call on Sunday that came as Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday.

According to the statement from the Kurdistan Region’s presidency, Barzani congratulated Abadi on the occasion of Eid and the victory of the Iraqi army and the liberation of the town of Tal Afar.

Abadi declared the full liberation of Nineveh province after Tel Afar and its sub-districts had been cleared on Thursday morning.

Iraqi security forces including the Army, Federal Police, Counter-Terrorism, Rapid Response, and the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary unit participated in the swift 11-day operation.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces were commended by US Army Lt. General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, for maintaining a northern defensive line to prevent ISIS militants in Tal Afar from fleeing into Syria.

After completion of Tal Afar, Iraq’s Joint Operation Centre (JOC) announced that Hawija would be next. The JOC published on Friday video of a military convoy headed for Hawija in preparation for operations.

Barzani also stressed to Abadi the continuation of coordination and shared work between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army in the war against ISIS.

The expected operation will include Peshmerga, who control area on five fronts to the north and east of the Hawija pocket, and the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi.

Kurdish forces were prepared to begin the Hawija offensive a year ago, before Mosul, but the launch was repeatedly delayed.

Since mid-2014, ISIS has held control of Hawija, a mainly Sunni Arab city just 55 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk.

The Coalition expects the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces to coordinate well in their roles in Hawija.

“What I do know is that the Iraqi security forces in Tal Afar decisively steamrolled ISIS in the city, took it over in a very swift victory and captured and killed several ISIS fighters throughout this campaign that lasted 10 days," Coalition Spokesperson Ryan Dillon, a US Army colonel, told Rudaw on Saturday.

He added: "I’m sure they’ll [Peshmerga] play a major part in what will happen in Hawija."