Iraqi Kurds believe that the recaptured territory around the city is rightfully theirs while the Iraqi government “fears that the Kurds will use territory as leverage during political negotiations”, according to Ranj Alaaldin, a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

A senior Kurdish federal official, who declined to be named, said that Peshmerga forces would never hand back areas captured after Isis’s march across northern Iraq, which brought the group to within miles of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. “All the current military operations that involve the Peshmerga are implemented in coordination with the international military coalition and the central government is aware of it, but, in the Kurdish areas, we will never ever let Arabs control them again,” the official warned. “We are not ready to fight, terrify our fighters’ souls to liberate these areas and hand them to a traitor who would sell it to the killers. We will not allow this scenario to take place again in these areas.”

While the Kurds argue that they have taken control of this territory to defend against Isis, many Iraqis believe that the Kurds will never give up what they have captured because of their ambitions for an independent state.