Counter-Terrorism forces take greater role in Iraq

Since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was sworn in on May 7, the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) have taken part in several high-profile operations and seem ever more in the foreground of the country’s security efforts.

Their June 26 arrests of over a dozen Kataib Hezbollah (KH) fighters in a Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) headquarters in southern Baghdad sparked concern that the CTS might, however, end up targeted by Iran-linked factions.

This has not yet happened. The CTS have been widely praised as “heroes” since their key role in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) starting in 2014 and — though some Iran-linked factions say they are too close to the United States — for now the blame was placed squarely on the prime minister as well as the United States for its rumored involvement.

In a recent operation by the CTS in the Qarachogh mountains near the Makhmour district, over 50 supporting airstrikes were reportedly carried out, attesting to the confidence in the forces by both the international coalition and the Iraqi military.

The June 24 operation reportedly resulted in the killing of 12 IS operatives in Iraq’s notoriously difficult areas disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government.