Iraq cannot afford to be complacent as threats remain potent: president

File – Iraqi President Barham Salih

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Saturday Iraq cannot “afford to be complacent” as threats remain potent, amid continued attacks by Islamic State (ISIS) against the Iraqi forces.

ISIS militants carried out several separate attacks against the Iraqi military, Peshmerga forces and Hashid al-Shaabi in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Diyala provinces early on Saturday.

We cannot afford to be complacent as terrorists’ threat remains potent. We must be united in support of Iraqi armed forces, maintain effective International support to eradicate terror across the region,” Salih said in a tweet.

Peshmerga forces foiled an ISIS attack near Prde town, south of Erbil, in the early hours of Saturday, according to the ministry of Peshmerga. Three members of the Kurdish forces were killed and two others injured in clashes with the militants.

Separately, ISIS militants attacked Iraqi federal police in the districts of Riyadh and Hawija in Kirkuk province. Casualties remained unclear.

The militants also carried out another attack against the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashid al-Shaabi, in Naft Khana in Diyala province, wounding two PMF fighters.

Meanwhile, four members of the Iraqi forces were killed after an improvised explosive device hit a vehicle of the security forces in Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December 2017 but the militants have regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range which extends into the northern provinces – an area described by officials as a “triangle of death”.

Kurdish officials have warned that the militant group is using a “security vacuum” between the Peshmerga forces and Iraqi army in the disputed areas to attack the Kurdish and Iraqi forces.

The Ministry of Peshmerga blamed the “security vacuum” between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces for ISIS attacks against the Peshmerga forces.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani called on the Iraqi government and U.S.-led Coalition forces to speed up works to form a joint force between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi military to prevent more attacks in the disputed areas.

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