Kurdish MP warns IS reemerging in Kirkuk since Peshmerga withdrawal
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish Member of the Iraqi Parliament on Monday warned that the Islamic State (IS) was regrouping in the disputed province of Kirkuk as a wave of attacks in recent weeks has killed dozens.
Kurdish MP Shakhawan Abdullah said Kirkuk was no longer safe since the administration of the province was taken over by Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias last year.
“Kirkuk is not safe, and there is a great danger in that city,” he told Kurdistan 24. “The areas between Kirkuk and Hawija, previously kept safe by Peshmerga forces, are now open for IS to reemerge.”
Abdullah noted that Iraqi security forces in the province have not been able to prevent the militant group from launching attacks against the civilian population.
Following the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum, which included the province of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, the Iraqi government led an offensive on Oct. 16 to force Peshmerga to withdraw from the area.
The Kurdish forces had protected the area following IS’ emergence in mid-2014 and the collapse of the Iraqi army, creating an environment of peace and coexistence.
“Since the installation of Iraqi forces in Kirkuk, several attacks have been waged against security units as well as the civilian population,” Abdullah said.
In recent weeks, IS has claimed a string of attacks where they have set up fake checkpoints to target unsuspecting victims.
The tactics used by the extremist group are reminiscent of methods adopted when they first emerged in Iraq and Syria.
Despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s “final victory” announcement against IS last December, the group has remained a threat in the country.