The Iraqi Prime Minister Hider al-Abadi said in his weekly press conference that the referendum cannot be held in Kirkuk, as the Islamic State terrorist group still occupy areas in the province and as thousands of civilians from the province are displaced. Al-Abadi called for dialogue and cooperation in order to resolve the disputed area issue. Adding that “Baghdad stands on an equal distance from all components of Kirkuk as part and parcel of the country”. Earlier this month, the provincial council of Kirkuk voted for a referendum on the province’s secession from Iraq and joining Kurdistan Region, the vote came after the council decided to raise Kurdistan flag in Kirkuk and its governmental buildings. Joint delegation from the two leading Kurdish parties of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party had visited the capital Baghdad to discuss holding a referendum as well for addressing the disputed areas issue.
Iraq’s Kurdistan region, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan capital city of Erbil on Thursday to meet with senior Kurdish officials. “A referendum will be held in the near future”, on the Kurdistan Region’s independence, Barzani said during meeting with Guterres as cited by KDP media. There is good military and security cooperation between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces which resulted in huge victories”, he added. Guterres reportedly expressed the U.N.’s support for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to restore peace to areas IS from where IS was expelled. Guterres said the international community “has not done enough” to help the Kurdistan Region in sheltering internally displaced people.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had killed three Islamic State terrorists after clashes northern of Tabqa district. Sources confirmed that intense clashes between the SDF and ISIS resulted in killing three terrorists as well for destroying their cars. Hundreds of civilians fled on Thursday from the Syrian city of alTabqa, which is still held by the Islamic State terror organization, amid intense fighting between the ISIS and SDF. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that hundreds of families left al-Tabqa and its surrounding areas and headed to the SDF-held area of al-Suidia Kabira, located to the north of al-Tabqa Dam.
The foreign minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari met the first vice president of the cabinet, the foreign minister of Kuwait the Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on the sidelines of the Arab league meetings at the Dead Sea in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. During the meeting they discussed the bilateral relations between both countries and confirming the necessity of deepening it to serve the interests of both friendly people, and discussing the issues of common interests of Iraq, Kuwait and the Arab region. Both sides agreed on the importance of cooperation in all fields, and continuing the Consultations and adopting the Purposeful dialogues to save Arab unity, and facing the regional and international challenges.
The service’s chief, Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat, said in a statement that his forces took over 62 targets assigned in western Mosul since the start of the security offensive. The troops killed hundreds of militants and destroyed 286 booby-trapped vehicles belonging to the group. Police forces evacuated 25.000 refugees from areas it had recaptured, Jawdat stated. Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting to retake the city that fell to Islamic State extremists in 2014. Police and supporting forces said recently they became closer to the Old City’s Nuri al-Kabir mosque, where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq and Syria. They had earlier recaptured the city’s airport and biggest military base besides several other districts since the launch of the campaign. The army’s leadership said recently government troops became in control over 50 percent of the region.
Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan said he hopes Newroz become a portent of peace and stability to the world in a statement released in various languages, including Kurdish. “On this occasion, I congratulate my sisters and brothers on Newroz day”, Erdogan said in a statement in the Kurdish language posted to Twitter to commemorate the holiday. “I hope Newroz becomes a portent of peace, stability and luxury”. His message comes as millions celebrate Newroz, the spring festival, in Diyarbakir in the southeast of Turkey amid tight security after months of fighting between security forces and Kurdish fighters.
With an average of 45,000 people fleeing western Mosul as Iraqi forces fight to retake densely-populated neighborhoods from ISIS, the top UN humanitarian representative to Iraq described the strain put on the humanitarian community in the country as overwhelming and nearing a breaking point. “If pace of displacement accelerates further, to be absolutely frank, it’s going to stretch us to a breaking point”, Lise Grande told reporters in teleconference briefing on Thursday, adding that 45,000 people per week have been leaving the west.OCHR, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that 13,350 people were displaced on March 3 alone. “We’re literally constructing around the clock”, Grande said, summarizing that when there’s a plot ready and a tent on it, mattresses inside, water and sanitation, humanitarian organizations inform the military that site is ready. Grande said 6,800 people left Mosul on Thursday, and there was space available for 24,000 people in displacement camps. “Tomorrow, if 20,000 people come out [in one day], there’s our capacity”, Grande said.
The jets received aim to support Iraqi forces in dislodging Islamic State (IS) militants from the city of Mosul. The T-50 fighter jets will soon participate in the military operations against IS terrorists, the statement said. The arrival of the new fighter jets comes as Iraqi security force backed by the anti-IS international coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out IS militants from its last major stronghold in and around Mosul.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Tuesday to meet Iraqi forces taking part in the offensive against Islamic State militants in the city, this is the first visit of Mosul since Iraqi forces began the operation to regain the city. (On November 25 last year, Abadi visited Bartela sub-district near Mosul city). Abadi promised the residents of areas under ISIS control that Iraq will defeat the militant group, adding that Iraqi forces were advancing on all fronts with no retreat: “the defeat is inevitable”. Abadi’s visit to Mosul comes after Iraqi security forces regained control of the government complex and the museum building in west Mosul on Tuesday after a successful overnight raid.
On May 19, the security committee member in Anbar Province, Bahr Barakat al-Eissawi has announced that the borderline between Iraq, Syria and Jordan west of Ramadi (110 km west of Baghdad) will be opened again: “The joint forces began, at noon today, a large-scale military operation to cleanse the borderline between Iraq, Syria and Jordan that extends from Rutba District and Trebil crossing point to al-Waleed crossing point west of Anbar. Trebil crossing point will be opened after completing the military operations against the terrorist cells and securing the international highway from Rutba District to Ramadi.” In this way, the most important trade passage between Iraq and Jordan could return to run within a few weeks.