White Flags Group Rises as New Threat in Northern Iraq

White Flags Group Rises as New Threat in Northern IraqWhite Flags Group Rises as New Threat in Northern Iraq

An alliance which is said to be affiliated to the former self-styled Islamic State terrorist group and disgruntled Kurdish mafia members has pushed out of the northern Iraqi town of Tuz Khurmatu, the group is known locally as the White Flags, after their banner—a black lion on a white background.

Although the White Flags appear to be something of a mythical entity—photographic evidence is limited to a few widely circulated images on social media—to the forces holding frontline in the oil facility in northern Iraq’s Jambur mountains, they pose a very real threat, Middle East Eye reported.

“The White Flags attack us most days, usually at dawn or dusk, and they have plenty of weapons, including heavy artillery and mortars,” Ali Ghazi Swaish Al-Obeidi told MEE, gesturing towards the mountains.

Obeidi commands a unit of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), which is responsible for security at the oil facility and extensive pipelines that carry oil from the Jambur fields to the main North Oil Company processing stations in Kirkuk.

“They are a mix of IS fighters and local Kurdish mafia guys. We know they fight under this white flag because, after our biggest battle against them here, where we had three martyrs and killed four of them, we found one of their white flags.”

Obeidi estimated that there were at least 500 fighters operating in the mountains but said the number could be as many as 1,000.

“The White Flags are members of IS and independent local Kurdish militias. They are not from the Peshmerga or any official Kurdish security forces,” the head of Iraq’s Special Forces Emergency Response Division (ERD), Thamer al-Husseini, told MEE, in Tuz Khurmatu.



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