Kirkuk (Iraqinews.com) – A London-based newspaper has warned that Islamic State militants have regained control of some areas in Kirkuk after paramilitary troops withdrew from there.
In a report quoted by Baghdad Today on Wednesday, Al-Quds Al-Arabi said, “Popular Mobilization Forces have recently withdrawn from a checkpoint at Riyadh district in Kirkuk, giving the Islamic State militant group a chance to emerge again in the district.”
The paper quoted local sources as saying that, “The security satiation is very dangerous in Kirkuk now, particularly on roads linking Kirkuk with Riyadh and Hawija.”
A source, who preferred to remain unnamed, told the paper that, “Islamic State militants who carried out several assassination operations in the governorate in the past period are hiding inside a tunnel at Ayadiya village.”
“IS militants have set up several fake checkpoints on Kirkuk roads to target security men and PMFs,” the source said.
On Tuesday, a senior security official told Middle East Online that at least 45 civilians and security personnel were killed in attacks launched by Islamic State militants on Hawija city, Kirkuk, over the past two months.
The Iraqi army and police, on the other hand, killed 288 Jihadists and arrested 55 others during the same period, the official added.
Another well-placed officer in the Iraqi Army said that the military operation to liberate Hawija has just focused on the main roads and districts of the city, pointing out that after the recapture of the city from Islamic State, some Jihadists surrendered to the Iraqi troops, while others fled to Hamrin Mountains and surrounding areas.
“The fleeing Jihadists have already killed many relatives of Iraqi soldiers over the past period,” the officer said.
In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi troops recaptured Hawija, a main town held by Islamic State in the country, after it was fallen to IS in June 2014.
There, Islamic State’s reign forced thousands to flee to refugee camps, while hundreds had been executed by the group for attempting to escape the area or contacting security forces.
Operations were launched in late September to liberate Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk, before Abadi announced freeing the town in October.