Iraq deploys more forces with heavy weapons to Kirkuk as IS attacks increase
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two Iraqi army units were deployed to Kirkuk on Monday as instability spirals in the ethnically-diverse and oil-rich province, a military source said.
“Today, two military units of Iraqi federal police forces from Anbar, Tikrit, and Baghdad were transferred to Kirkuk, equipped with heavy weapons, tanks, and armored vehicles,” a military source in Kirkuk told Kurdistan 24.
“The deployment of the reinforcement was under the command of the Iraqi Prime Minister and Commander-in-chief of armed forces Haider al-Abadi,” the source added.
Iraqi forces have been deployed to Kirkuk to prepare for a large military operation in the south and west of the province to eliminate Islamic State (IS) militants in the area who are posing a grave security threat to the region, the military officer stated.
Kurdistan 24 has learned that other forces have also been deployed to Kirkuk’s neighboring provinces, including Salahuddin and Diyala.
Soon after the emergence of IS in 2014, the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga and other security forces protected Kirkuk from attacks by the extremist group. Following the Region’s controversial independence referendum held in September, Iraqi troops and Shia militias drove Kurdish forces from Kirkuk and other disputed territories.
Since then, the security situation has considerably deteriorated, with IS activities on the rise, including ambushes, kidnappings, suicide attacks, and execution-style killings.
Recently, different officials from Kirkuk have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the insecurity and the re-emergence of IS in the province, blaming Iraqi forces for failing to protect people from the militant group’s attacks.
After three years of fighting in the war-torn country, Iraq declared victory against IS last December. However, since then, the extremist group has resumed insurgency attacks, particularly in Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salahuddin.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Soran Kamaran contributed to this report)