Anwya believes this is because the United States and its allies are worried about hitting the peshmerga in its airstrikes. “They don’t want to get confused and hit us,” he claimed. The former US Marine agreed, saying, “If we pass the line we may get hit by airstrikes.”
The peshmerga forces’ belief that it is better prepared to fight IS than the Iraqi military, coupled with the Iraqi government preventing them from going on the offensive at present, demonstrates that the two are not exactly on the same page.
However, their differences have not hindered either’s success as of late. According to Ali, the peshmerga, the Iraqi armed forces and their allies have had more success in 2015 fighting IS than in the previous year. Media reports noted that IS lost several villages around Mosul in January of this year, for example. Despite this progress, until a decision is reached on when to move forward, the current situation of relatively light combat and a static front line is likely to continue.
Batnaya is a small town 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) north of Mosul that is currently controlled by IS. The black flag of the caliphate sits atop a church there. Its mostly Assyrian Christian inhabitants have fled. Its story is the fate of many Iraqis who have been displaced by the rise of IS. The reasons that the Iraqi government has yet to allow the pPeshmerga to attack IS further are understandable. However, many from Batnaya and elsewhere are hoping Baghdad gives peshmerga the green light sooner rather than later.
Samad Hasan contributed reporting.