ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Islamic State (IS) militants have increased their activities around the town of Makhmour, posing a threat to people’s lives in the area, a town official said on Monday.
“Unfortunately, the presence and activities of Da’esh [IS] in some villages and districts of Makhmour is a fact that cannot be denied,” Rizgar Mohammed, the Mayor of Makhmour, told Kurdistan 24 on Monday. His statement came as Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga re-opened the main road connecting Makhmour to Erbil.
“Their [IS] militants are seen in the area, entering people’s house and raiding supplies from civilians.”
The mayor affirmed Iraqi forces who are in charge of the area have repeatedly been asked to eliminate IS militants whose presence endures near the city and pose a security threat to people’s lives.
Makhmour lies southwest of Erbil. Since the removal of the Iraqi dictatorship in 2003, the town has been administrated by Kurds as part of the Kurdistan Region.
Following the emergence of IS in the area three years ago, Makhmour and its surrounding villages came under the protection of the Peshmerga forces. It was one of the most active front lines, regularly targeted by the extremist group.
Since mid-Oct. 2017, the region has come under the control of Iraqi forces and the Iran-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia following an attack against the Kurdish forces and military takeover of disputed territories.
IS attacks in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces have also risen over the past few months as fake security checkpoints and assassinations are targeting civilians and Iraqi security forces.
“Since Da’esh lost control of its territory in Iraq, they are using guerrilla tactics to attack the area… It is the result of Iraqi forces being weak, failing to secure the region,” Osman Hassan, a Peshmerga Commander on the Diyala border, told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
After three years of fierce fighting, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in December last year declared complete victory over the jihadist group.
Editing by Nadia Riva