Iraqi forces have announced a security operation on Wednesday in the mountainous border area along the planned route for a new oil transport route into neighboring Iran. The route has a substantial “White Flags” presence.
The White Flags group has come together extremely recently, formed of Kurdish mafia groups that lost out during an Iraqi military offensive against Kurdish territory, and of ISIS remnant fighters who are in the same regions but similarly lack anything to do.
The White Flags have been blamed for attacks in the area for awhile, but it’s only very recently that officials are willing to concede that they even exist, previously suggesting they were a “mythical” force with no photographic evidence.
Estimates are that between 500 and 1,000 White Flags fighters are operating in the area where the oil route is expected. Though the group doesn’t have any current affiliation with either ISIS or the Kurdish government, their creation is heavily the result of Iraqi offensives against both, and causing problems for the oil route seems to be very desirable for them.