Iraqi forces launch operation to restore security in ethnically-mixed city

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-13 18:51:33|Editor: Zhou Xin
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TIKRIT, Iraq, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces Saturday launched an operation to restore security and order in the ethnically-mixed city of Tuz-Khurmato in Iraq's central province of Salahudin, a provincial security source told Xinhua.

Commandos of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and provincial elite police force of Rapid Response forces, were deployed in the entrances and main streets of Tuz-Khurmato, some 90 km east of Salahudin's capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The troops, backed by armored vehicles, "carried out a search campaign in the city looking for unlicensed weapons after the town witnessed chaos and bomb attacks against houses of Kurds," the source said.

On Oct. 16, most of the Kurds left their houses in the city after they lost their power and influence in the city as the Iraqi security forces fully redeployed in Tuz-Khurmato following the withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga forces, at the same day when the Iraqi forces redeployed on the nearby oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

The Kurds' houses, apparently, were attacked by their rivals paramilitary Hashd Shaabi of Turkoman minority, according to the source.

"Unlicensed weapons will be confiscated and no one will be allowed to carry arms at all, except for the security forces," the source said, adding that the forces have lists of wanted suspects.

Meanwhile, The troops are preparing for another operation in an area located in east of the nearby Tuz-Khurmato mountain, where the Iraqi forces believe that some militias are carrying out almost daily mortar attacks on the city that killed and wounded dozens of people during the past few months, the source added.

Earlier in the month, the Turkoman Member of Parliament Jasim Mohammed Jaafar from the leading Shiite parliamentary bloc of National Alliance, accused Kurdish militants of carrying out series of mortar attacks on the city.

"These mortar rounds were launched by Kurdish gangs," Jaafar said, demanding reinforcement of federal troops to be dispatched immediately to stop such attacks on civilians.

The ethnically-mixed city of Tuz-Khurmato is mostly made up of Turkoman Shiite as well as sizable Kurdish and Sunni Arab population.

Previously, the city witnessed repeated clashes between the Kurds and Shiite militias, as the city and surrounding areas are part of the disputed areas outside the Kurdistan region, which are claimed by the Kurds and both Arabs and Turkomans. The Kurds want to incorporate the areas on the edge of their Kurdistan region, but their move is fiercely opposed by Baghdad government and non-Kurdish residents.

The operation came as tensions are running high between Baghdad government and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan after the Kurdish region held a controversial referendum on independence of Kurdistan and disputed areas.