Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has retired the army’s Chief of Staff General Babaker Baderkhan Shawkat Zebari.
On Monday, Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for the Iraqi premier, said General Zebari had been retired on Abadi’s orders.
However, Zebari has dismissed the claim that he has removed from his post in an exclusive interview with Kurdish-language Rudaw satellite television network, stressing that he had tendered his resignation back in October 2014.
The former Iraqi army’s chief of staff said he planned to retire from the post on four different occasions, but each request was turned down by Masoud Barzani, the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Zebari had been appointed to the post in 2003, following the US-led invasion of the country.
In mid-April, Abadi retired more than 300 military officers as part of efforts to restructure the army amid advances by the Takfiri ISIL terrorist group in Iraqi territory.
Since taking office last August, Abadi has retired, reorganized, and repositioned hundreds of military officers and commanders in the Iraqi military.
Iraqi forces retake town
Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces backed by fighters from Popular Mobilization units have managed to flush ISIL extremists out of a town in the troubled western province of Anbar.
A district manager of the Anbar Province, Naji Arak, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria satellite television network that the troopers, supported by Iraqi air power, managed to deal heavy blows to the ISIL and take control of Jubbah, situated about 180 kilometers (110 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad. Jubbah had fallen to ISIL Takfiris in mid-May.
On Monday, Iraqi army soldiers, supported by fighters from Popular Mobilization units, cleansed the oil-rich city of Baiji in the northern province of Salahuddin from Takfiri ISIL militants, after establishing full control over the area.
Baiji is located on a main road to the northern city of Mosul – which is under ISIL control – and its seizure can choke off the militants’ supply lines.
The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since ISIL militants began their offensive in the country in June 2014. Army soldiers and volunteer fighters have joined forces and are seeking to take back militant-held regions.