ISIS increases activity in Iraq's disputed territories
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Islamic State militants are reemerging with increased and more organized terror attacks in areas of Iraq that still suffer from significant security voids.
Kamal Ibrahim is the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) representative in the disputed town of Qara Tepe, which lies west of Kirkuk. As Ibrahim told local media,“ISIS has reorganized its militants, increasing their attacks on Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and civilians as well.”
“The ISF is failing to provide security for the area and its people, and civilians are taking up arms to protect themselves in the disputed area,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s (IG) office released its latest report on “Operation Inherent Resolve,” the official name of the US-led military campaign against the Islamic State. The report highlights the increasing activity of the terrorist group in both Iraq and Syria.
“ISIS is able to operate as an insurgency in Iraq and Syria, in part because the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) remain unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants,” the IG report states.
It also warns, “Despite losing its territorial ‘caliphate,’ the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq.”
On July 31, an insurgent attack by the Islamic State led to a confrontation with Kurdish security forces just south of Kifri, which itself lies at the southern boundary of the Kurdistan Region. Five Peshmerga died in the fight.
The site of the clashes was, thus, in the territory disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s federal government. It is also a contact line between the Kurdish forces and Iraqi forces backed by Shia militias.
Officials from Kurdistan, along with civilians in the disputed territories, have long called for a joint security plan between the Peshmerga forces and the ISF to fill the security gaps in the disputed areas. However, so far, there has been no solid attempt from Baghdad to address the problem.
Although Iraq, under the previous Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared a “final victory” against the terrorist organization in December 2017, the so-called Islamic State continues to carry out sporadic attacks. They include bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings in previously liberated areas, particularly in villages and remote areas, where security forces have difficulty monitoring the movements of the terrorist organization.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie