Iraq: Kurdish forces intercept 'confidential message' from IS leader
Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga forces have intercepted a "confidential message" from the leader of the Islamic State group [IS] to his high-ranking leaders in Nineveh province in Iraq, revealing the intense pressure the militants are under.
The letter from the elusive Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordered IS soldiers to withdraw from certain areas of Iraq and disclosed plans that the militant group's next main stronghold will be in Libya, Kurdish-language Bas News reported.
"Security forces found a letter from Baghdadi addressed to the IS leadership in Sinjar, ordering them to pull out heavy artillery from Mosul and transport it to positions close to the Iraqi border with Syria," said Wahid Bakouzi, an aid to the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani.
"The letter also ordered the withdrawal of troops from some areas because locals are not willing to sacrifice themselves for IS," Bakouzi said.
He added that the message said that the group could soon relocate to Libya, where several hundred IS fighters have recently moved to as a part of the militant group's strategy to expand its global footprint.
|Kurdish forces have recaptured nine villages from IS [Getty]|
The New Arab cannot verify the content of the letter.
IS has come under mounting pressure on the battlefield in recent weeks, with Kurdish forces gaining ground in the north of Iraq in a two-day operation around Mosul, IS' northern hub of Mosul.
On Monday, Kurdish forces recaptured nine villages east of IS-held Mosul.
The operation involved around 5,500 Peshmerga fighters backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and reconquered an area of 120 square kilometres.
The area, near Khazir, lies near the main road between Mosul and the autonomous Kurdish region's capital Arbil.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council [KRSC] claimed that in the course of the two-day operation, 140 IS fighters were killed and 14 car bombs were destroyed.
The Peshmerga officer in charge of the region said at a news conference that four Kurdish forces were killed and 34 others wounded during the operation.
The fresh push against the organisation in the north came a week after Iraqi forces launched an operation against Fallujah, IS' only other major urban hub in Iraq.