A high-ranking commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units says the pro-government fighters will not wait for the permission of Kurdish Peshmerga forces to liberate areas still under control of Daesh, including the town of Hawijah in the country’s oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
“We don’t need permission from anyone whether inside or outside of Iraq to liberate our country and our land… We don’t need permission from the Kurdish Peshmerga. We have already closed in on Hawijah from the eastern, southern and northern prongs and are in no need of passageways from Peshmerga forces. We won’t wait for the Kurds to grant us the permission,” Secretary General of Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri told Press TV in an exclusive interview in the town of Shirqat on Sunday.
He added that the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) had called upon Peshmerga commanders to cooperate with both government forces and Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name as Hashd al-Sha’abi, but Kurdish military officials were yet to comply with the request.
“Up until now, there has been no cooperation regarding Hawijah liberation operation despite the JOC’s official request. All this is happening as Iraqi forces are going to announce the full recapture of Hawijah soon,” Ameri pointed out.
On September 21, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of a new offensive to drive out Daesh militants from Hawijah, located 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk.
The operation to free Hawijah came as tensions were running high between the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan after the local Kurdish government insisted on holding a controversial independence referendum on Monday.
The Iraqi government has warned that it is ready to use force if the referendum leads to violence.
Iraq’s neighboring countries, including Turkey, Iran and Syria, have also strongly opposed the vote.