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Analysis

Iraq Raises Worries about ISIS Return amid Turkish Syria Operation

Friday 18 October 2019
Iraq Raises Worries about ISIS Return amid Turkish Syria Operation

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Alwaght- With the US retreat from northern Syria and the Turkish incursion in the Kurdish-controlled regions in the north, the situation in the region may move to further destabilization and insecurity not only for the Syrian people but also the other parts of the region.

One of the important countries that has been closely following the situation in Syria with concerns after the Turkish Operation Peace Spring was launched is Iraq. Over the past week, various Iraqi politicians and military commanders took stances on the course of developments in the neighboring country.

On Monday, the office of the Iraqi President Barham Saleh, who is himself a Kurd, stated that the president talked over phone with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and demanded managing of the humanitarian conditions, stopping to the military action, and avoiding to give the ISIS terrorists any chance to reorganize and afresh endanger the region’s security.

The Iraqi president, like other officials and people, fears ISIS fighters’ escape from the Kurdish-controlled prisons and their possible penetration of the Iraqi borders to rearrange their peers remaining as sleeper cells in the country.

The former Iraqi interior minister in an article warned about possible crossing the border into Iraq of 10,000 terrorist militants as a result of the Turkish operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara argues the two are Syrian branches of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), labeled terrorist organization by the government of Turkey.

Iraq’s Al-Sumaria TV said that Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandis, the deputy leader of the Public Mobilization Forces (PMF) or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic, released a statement on Tuesday warning that what is going on in northern Syria is dangerous adding that the voluntary force will coordinate with the Iraqi army and border guard commanders to prevent ISIS penetration of the Iraqi borders. One way of crossing into Iraq is blending in with the displaced people who are now on their way to the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

Al-Sumaria, citing an Iraqi security official, reported on the country’s deterrence and the preparations to face ISIS resurgence in Iraq. About 10,000 army troops, security forces, and Hashd fighters were deployed along the border with Syria from Rabia town in Mosul to Faysh Khabour in Dohuk. This borderline in Syria starts from Al-Ayrabiya to Al-Malikiah.

Iraq now has very sensitive days. Arabaeen religious ceremony is arriving and odds are the ISIS will attempt attacks on the marching people in the holy city of Karbala. Al-Mohandis in his statement assured that the PMF forces will secure the Arabaeen ceremony with all of their potentials.

The threats are not far away from materialization. On Monday, Samarra operations commander said his forces killed two ISIS suicide bombers who planned to attack the pilgrims. They intended to strike the pilgrims taking part in the religious commemoration in Al-Sayfunah in eastern Samarra.

Analysts suggest that the US has deliberately green-lighted the Turkish offensive against the Kurds and just against its public anti-ISIS gesture it eyes ISIS prisoners release to implement a scheme for ISIS re-emergence in Iraq.

In eastern Syria, where there is a wealth of oil and gas and the government has no regular presence and control, ISIS certainly will seek to broaden its grip on further territory than other parts of the country. The terrorist group will take advantage of the conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds to regain its position in the region. It is never unlikely that ISIS revival is one reason behind the US forces’ pullout of Syria. This, for the Americans, will maintain insecurity in the Arab country.

Iraq's worries about ISIS return to its territory are prompted by the European countries’ rejection to take in their nationals fighting in ISIS ranks. On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Watch warned that some European governments do not want to take back their ISIS-affiliated nationals and instead seek to transfer them from Syria to Iraq. The warning continued that with the Turkish campaign against the Kurdish factions, ISIS has a bigger chance of escape amid clashes. During their operations to take control of ISIS-held regions in the north and northeast, the SDF captured 12,000 ISIS members, among them “2,500 to 3,000 foreign fighters” from 54 countries.

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ISIS Iraq Worries Turkey Operation Syria

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