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October 23, 2017 2:53 pm

Hezbollah Leader Lauds Fall of Kurdish Kirkuk to Iranian-Backed Forces as ‘Our Victory’

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, the top Hezbollah leader in southern Lebanon. Photo: File.

A senior leader of the Hezbollah terrorist movement in Lebanon has boasted that the fall of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk last week to an Iranian-backed coalition of Iraqi government forces and Shia militias was “a victory over the US and Israel.”

“Our victory in Kirkuk is a victory over the US and Israel and an answer to (US President Donald) Trump’s threats to Iran,” said Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, Hezbollah’s top official in southern Lebanon.

The Tehran regime’s main proxy in Syria and Lebanon, Hezbollah has loudly applauded the routing of Kurdish Peshmerga forces around the city of Kirkuk and other strategic sites in northern Iraq. “The qualitative and strategic gains achieved by Iraq in Kirkuk is a new achievement for the resistance axis and a new defeat for Trump, America, Israel and others in the region,” Kaouk said. The US would not be able to change Hezbollah’s positions through sanctions, he exclaimed, “not today, tomorrow or in the future.”

“Hezbollah will complete its path to victory,” Kaouk went on to say.

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Iranian-backed paramilitary units, the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi, joined Iraqi forces to take control of Kirkuk, Diyala, and Nineveh provinces in northern Iraq, all disputed areas that had been under Kurdish control.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani — the commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — is an adviser to the Hashd forces and was reportedly on the ground in Kirkuk.

Meanwhile, reports emerged on Monday that Shia forces were looting homes in the same city that became a symbol of ISIS brutality when the Sunni Islamist group took over northern Iraq three years ago.

A senior officer with the Peshmerga told Kurdish news outlet Rudaw that Hashd fighters were looting homes in the city of Shingal — the main center of Iraq’s beleaguered Yezidi religious minority. In August 2014, thousands of Yezidi men from Shingal and nearby towns were executed by ISIS terrorists, with many of their wives and daughters subsequently forced to serve their relatives’ killers as sex slaves.

Peshmerga commander Haidar Shasho, himself a Yezidi, confirmed that Hashd forces had broken an agreement reached on October 17 to enter the city without bloodshed. Shasho has remained inside the city as well with a small force under his command.

“We’ve come here to protect you, not to fight with you, and in no way will we interfere in the administrative affairs of the town,” Shasho quoted the Iraqi forces who entered the town as having said to him.

Shasho said that the Iraqi military had denied Kurdish appeals to prevent the looting. “We took up the issue with the Iraqi military, but they said those who are doing the looting are the Hashd al-Shaabi, and we have no authority over them,” Shasho stated.

Shasho said that he had some trust in the Iraqi army to restore peace, “but no trust in the Hashd al-Shaabi at all.” He vowed that his Peshmerga force “will remain in Shingal and will never leave.”

 

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