A military operation to rid Anbar province of Islamic State militants began on Saturday at Akashat near the Syrian border. The operation, which includes U.S. air support, will eventually move towards towns such as Anah, Rawah, and Qaim. Iraqi forces declared the area captured later in the day, which could mean that about 300 civilian families were liberated. Not far across the Syrian border in Abu Kamal, Syrian forces and Shi’ite militiamen also launched an offensive.
Ján Kubiš, the United Nations envoy in Iraq, asked Kurdish President Massoud Barzani to cancel plans to hold an independence referendum and offered international assistance for negotiations between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad that may result in a deal within three years. Saudi Arabia also offered support. Barzani has said he is willing to consider negotiations only if given a suitable alternative to the referendum. Separately, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım called the referendum an issue of Turkish national security.
In a lengthy interview with the Associated Press, Prime Minister Haider al Abadi reported that the number of civilian fatalities during the Mosul operation was between 970 and 1,260 dead. The number of dead among security personnel was about twice that amount. He also revealed that Baghdad is working with the Syrian government to secure the vast border between the two countries and hopes that the ISIS/Daesh militants will be defeated by year’s end.
According to Canadian military spokesperson Major General Alexandre Cadieux, Canadian troops are being redeployed from Mosul to the Hawija area in what will hopefully be the last major operation to recover territory from Islamic State militants.
At least 38 people were killed and 19 more were wounded:
Five policemen were killed during a combined roadside bombing and attack in Saidiya.
A car bomb near liquor stores in Kirkuk killed three people and wounded nine more.
In Taji, a bomb wounded three people.
A family of five was killed by a bomb while trying to escape Hawija, even though they were related to a militant.
An airstrike on Rashad killed at least a dozen militants.
Three militants were killed in Qayrawan.
A bomb in Qara Tapa killed one militiaman.
Two militants were killed in a strike on Riyadh.
In Anbar, two militants were executed for fleeing Tal Afar.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- 47 Bodies Found in Mass Grave; 13 Killed in Iraq – February 20th, 2019
- Truffle Hunters Executed; 17 Killed in Iraq – February 19th, 2019
- Fresh Dangers for Truffle Hunters; 12 Killed in Iraq – February 18th, 2019
- Attack at Military Base Near Kirkuk; 11 Killed in Iraq – February 17th, 2019
- Elderly Shrine Tender Among Eight Killed in Iraq – February 16th, 2019