After apparently trying unsuccessfully to enter Kandhar airport, Taliban seize a nearby residential neighborhood, with fighting resulting in the death of 37 civilians and scores more injuries. Militants are still holed up and fighting continues, with the airport largely closed as a precaution.
In Iraq meanwhile, in a further sign of improving relations between Kurdistan and Turkey, Kurdish president Massoud Barzani is in Ankara for an official visit. At the same time, however, Turkey has bombed PKK positions in Iraqi Kurdistan. Although I can find no immediate comment on this from the KRG, the KRG has previously repudiated the PKK and it is conceivable that this happened with the tacit consent of the KRG.
This essay in Business Insider essentially concurs with my conclusion that the spat between Turkey and Iraq over Turkish forces presence near Mosul is really a surrogate for the Turkish quarrel with Russia. Here's a key excerpt:
Russia has been sharing "security and intelligence" information about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) with Iraq since September — when Russian, Syrian, and Iranian military advisers began building a coordination cell in Baghdad in an effort to bolster the Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting ISIS in northern Iraq.Note that this leaves the U.S. on the outside looking in, even as additional U.S. special forces enter Iraq and the U.S. continues the air campaign against IS. I don't normally link to Iranian state news outlets because they are unreliable, but they are reporting that a member of the Iraqi parliament is demanding that the security agreement with the U.S. be cancelled. It doesn't seem likely that Abadi can be best buddies with Iran, Russia, and the U.S. all at the same time, especially if he's allied with Russia in confronting NATO member Turkey. This is a big mess.
With Iran's implicit blessing, Russian president Vladimir Putin has therefore taken on a greater role in Iraq — a role that comes with certain political and military expectations.