Iraqi Kurds Withdraw to June 2014 Lines as Offensive Continues

Peshmerga Withdraws From All Territory Seized in ISIS War

Large amounts of territory seized by the Kurdish Peshmerga over the course of multiple years of war with ISIS has been ceded back to the Iraqi central government in only about 72 hours. Iraqi officials now say that the Peshmerga is back to its June 2014 borders, the start of the ISIS conflict.

Iraq’s fast military offensive, bolstered by Shi’ite militias, saw them seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Monday,expanding into Sinjar and Khanaqin on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Iraqi forces took territory near Mosul.

The Kurdistan Regional Government had previously indicated they intended to keep all that territory as part of theirs, and this was particularly important in Kirkuk, which the Kurds have historical claims to.

Secessionist ambitions, however, convinced Iraq they needed to push the Peshmerga out of the territory, and despite the Kurdish paramilitary force having a lot of US-provided arms, they don’t appear to have been willing to directly contest the offensive, at least not so far. Iraqi officials have not said if they intend to push deeper into Iraqi Kurdistan.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.