A joint force composed of army, police and Hashd al-Shaabi elements has been tasked with maintaining security in Iraq’s Kirkuk province, according to a high-ranking military source.
At a Wednesday press conference, Saad Harba, a major-general in the Iraqi army’s Joint Operations Command, said the Hashd al-Shaabi would be “closely involved” with maintaining security in the oil-rich province.
A largely Shia fighting force, Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi was established in 2014 to fight the Daesh terrorist group.
In 2017, the group was formally incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces.
Later the same year, Iraqi federal forces moved into several parts of Iraq -- including Kirkuk -- disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, the administrative capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region.
The deployments, which followed an illegitimate referendum on Kurdish regional independence, saw an accompanying withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga forces from these areas.
Federal forces deployed in 2017, however, were recently replaced by Iraqi Special Forces, prompting speculation of a possible return to these areas of Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
By Haydar Karaalp in Baghdad