Chief of Staff to President Mahmoud Barzani of the Erbil-based autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, Dr. Fuad Hussein, has said that the Iraqi central government in Baghdad was not informed of a joint raid by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and US commandos to save hostages held by the ISIS militant group on Thursday.
US Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed in a press conference late on Thursday that an American soldier was killed in the raid that took place in the ISIS-held town of Hawija, in Iraq’s Kirkuk province earlier that morning, making him the first American soldier to be killed by ISIS since the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with TRT World, Dr. Hussein said the joint mission was simply a hostage rescue operation and the KRG authorities were not aware of who the captives were.
“We hoped there would be some Kurdish Peshmerga hostages in there because those terrorists (ISIS) had caught some Peshmerga hostages and we thought some of those people were there,” Dr. Hussein told TRT World.
“We knew there were hostages there, but we did not know their identities,” he added. “Anyhow, we saved the lives of 69 innocent people.”
When asked if Baghdad had been informed about the raid beforehand, Dr. Hussein said no information was shared with the Iraqi central government, citing the distance between the battlefronts of the Baghdad and Erbil authorities with the ISIS militant group as a reason.
Dr. Hussein also denied having any knowledge of information on ISIS that was reportedly seized at the site of the raid, but confirmed that six ISIS militants had been killed.
ISIS has seized swathes of land in Iraq’s predominantly Sunni Muslim western provinces since capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in the summer of 2014. The militant group later broke through the Sykes-Picot border dividing Iraq and Syria.
However, the militants have faced resistance in the Iraqi city of Tikrit from government forces backed by Shiite militias and in Kirkuk by Peshmerga forces. Nonetheless, the group managed to add the western Iraqi city of Ramadi to its realm in May.
Having set up its de facto capital in the central Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS has been battling with Kurdish YPG forces in the country’s north as well as Syrian opposition groups as they attempt push westwards towards the city of Aleppo.
The group has been targeted by US-led coalition air strikes in Syria and Iraq since September 2014, and more recently by Russian air strikes in Syria as of Sept. 30 this year.
Author: Ertan Karpazli