Baghdad and Arbil join forces against Islamic State militants

By Mohammed al-Salehi

Azzaman, January 8, 2015

The central government in Baghdad and the regional Kurdish government in Arbil have agreed on a joint plan to confront Islamic State militants who currently control large swathes of the country.

A Defense Ministry source said the sides have held meetings in the past few days during which agreement was reached on how to coordinate the fight against the jihadist group.

Security ministries and armed forces representatives from both sides “have had fruitful and positive discussions on how to unite the front against Daesh,” the source said.

Daesh is the Arabic name for Islamic State.

The source said the government in Baghdad has agreed to supply Kurdish forces, locally known as peshmerga, with arms and ammunition, a step that would have been frowned upon by Baghdad prior to Islamic State invasion of the country in June last year.

Still the sides could not agree on “two divisive issues” on which the source refused to elaborate.

“Both issues have been referred to the cabinet to decide upon,” the source added.

Ministers of defense and interior from both sides took part in the Baghdad meetings on how to confront Islamic State and put into action measures to coordinate between their multifarious forces and militias.

The Kurdish delegation had arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday and the joint meetings were concluded on Thursday.

The source said channels of communication between Iraqi and Kurdish security forces have expanded and are now open 24 hours a day.