ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Islamic State (IS) published a video on Saturday of the group executing Iraqi security members who were kidnapped on the Kirkuk – Baghdad road despite Iraqi authorities declaring they had secured the area with checkpoints, and regular patrols.
The video shows eight militants wearing uniforms similar to those of Iraqi forces executing captives. The victims are believed to be members of the Iraqi federal police forces who were recently kidnapped on the Kirkuk – Baghdad road.
The execution by firing squad took place in a mountainous area where the jihadist group seems to remain active, between the Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. The Federal Police, in a statement, confirmed the deaths.
A few days ago, IS published additional footage online showing the killing of eight men who were said to be members of the Shia Turkman militia within the pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi.
In the past month, attacks claimed by the jihadist group have substantially increased in Kirkuk and south of the province. IS has been setting fake security checkpoints in southern and southwestern Kirkuk, blocking roads to Baghdad and other areas of Iraq.
Recently, Saraya al-Salam, a militia group operating under the Hashd al-Shaabi, announced that IS had killed two militiamen they had kidnapped at a fake checkpoint on the Kirkuk road. The jihadist group later claimed responsibility and released footage of the execution.
The security situation has considerably deteriorated in Kirkuk, and other disputed territories since Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi took over the area in October last year following the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence.
On Saturday evening, four civilians were killed in a vehicle blast in the center of Kirkuk, and at least four more were injured, a security source told Kurdistan 24. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack.
The explosion followed Iraqi forces repelling an IS attack at a security checkpoint in Diyala province. Clashes between the Iraqi forces and the jihadist group killed a family of four who was caught in the crossfire, Iraqi Operation Command said in a statement.
They added that a security operation in search of the perpetrators was being carried out.
Current acts carried out by IS bring to mind the tactics that the jihadist group employed in the years prior to their taking of Mosul in 2014.
Iraq announced victory over IS in December last year, three years after the fierce war against the jihadist group began. IS, however, is still capable of launching attacks in various parts of Iraq, with areas in and around Kirkuk being a prime target.
Peshmerga officials have repeatedly warned that IS militants are re-grouping in Kirkuk and disputed territories, including Nineveh province.
Editing by Nadia Riva