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Iraqi Kurdistan defense forces resume fighting with Islamic State group

August 08, 2014, 14:32 UTC+3 ANKARA
On Thursday, the Kurds completed evacuation of the Mahmur refugee camp, transferring its people to a safe region
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© EPA/Seb Crozier

ANKARA, August 08. /ITAR-TASS/. Paramilitary units of the Iraqi Kurds - Peshmerga forces - on Friday morning engaged with the Islamic State group in the area of the Mahmur refugee camp, the Kurdish news agency Firat reported.

Peshmerga are fighting together with other self-defense units, including a large women’s rebel group.

On Thursday, the Kurds completed evacuation of the Mahmur refugee camp, transferring its people to a safe region. After Peshmerga units withdrew, the Islamic State group occupied the Mahmur village and started to advance towards the refugee camp. Meanwhile, during the night the Kurdish forced returned to the region and took the positions.

There were no immediate reports about the sides’ casualties. The agency said heavy weapons were used in the fighting and Kurds had brought tanks to the Mahmur area.

The central command of the self-defense forces on Thursday said that the “Islamic State’s actions threaten the whole Kurdistan, and its people will fight to the end faithfully and effectively.” Apprehensions have also been voiced that the Kurds may fail to resist the Islamic State fighters who have received a large amount of new American weapons.

Turkey has been providing humanitarian aid to the northern Iraqi regions that suffered from the Islamic State actions. Meanwhile, Turkey is concerned over the Islamists’ inland advance in Iraq and their foreign weapons, including missile systems.

A meeting of the Turkish government was held in Ankara overnight with the participation of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, commanders of troops, representatives of intelligences service and media that focused on the situation in Iraq. The meeting was held behind closed doors, but, according to available information, its participants discussed any possible scenarios of the events and Turkey’s involvement in them.

In particular, special attention was paid to boosting security in the border regions, organising humanitarian corridors and refugee camps, if necessary. In light of the US statements on readiness to deliver surgical strikes on the Islamic State forces, the Turkish government and security officials assessed the prospects for assisting this mission.

However, at the current stage, local observers say, Turkey is unwilling to take part in combat operations, instead it will ensure security on the border and organise humanitarian missions.

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