Iraqi forces are shifting to start operations near Rawa and Qaim near the Syrian border after capturing Hawija from Islamic State, the U.S. Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, said on Thursday.
“Iraqi forces today shifting in mass from Hawija front to west Anbar to liberate Rawa, Qaim and secure Iraq’s borders with Syria,” McGurk tweeted.
Hawija was officially proclaimed free from ISIS on October 5, less than two weeks after the beginning of the offensive.
Last month, a source familiar with anti-ISIS operations told The Globe Post that Iraqi Security Forces were supposed to launch the mission to capture Qaim along with the Hawija operation. That assault was apparently delayed amid tensions between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region over the latter’s independence referendum on September 25.
The Coalition declined to comment on operational specifics.
McGurk’s announcement came one day after Kurdistan Region Security Council accused Baghdad of preparing an operation against Kurdistan in the areas south and west of Kirkuk and north of Mosul.
We're receiving dangerous msgs Iraqi forces, incl PMU & Fed Pol, are preparing major attack in South/West Kirkuk & North Mosul on Kurdistan.
— KR Security Council (@KRSCPress) October 11, 2017
Relations between Erbil and Baghdad have become increasingly tense after the Kurdistan independence referendum held on September 25, where some 92 percent of the Kurds voted in favor of secession from Iraq.