ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Peshmerga fighters at an outpost in the disputed district of Khanaqin on Thursday evening thwarted an Islamic State attack, a Peshmerga commander said.
“A group of Islamic State gunmen attacked our forces’ base in the Kani Masi area of Khanaqin but were repelled,” Jmour Rostam, a Peshmerga commander from the area, told Kurdistan 24 following the incident.
Khanaqin is an area disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government. The Hamrin mountain range, which borders the district’s southern part, has long been a hiding spot for the terrorist organization’s sleeper cells.
The group’s agents are reportedly still using parts of the rugged and arid Hamrin mountain range to regroup, regain strength, and plan insurgent attacks on nearby areas.
“After half an hour of heavy fighting, the Islamic State fighters fled,” said Rostam, adding, “following the clash, another Peshmerga unit arrived to the area and are on standby.”
The commander also noted the Peshmerga forces had sustained no casualties.
Related article: ISIS increases activity in Iraq's disputed territories
Over a year since Iraq proclaimed victory over the Islamic State, the terror group’s insurgency continues in several parts of the country. Their attacks are more concentrated in disputed territories where the group exploits a security vacuum, especially in rural areas.
On July 31, members of the Islamic State clashed with the local Kurdish security forces just south of Kifri, near Khanaqin, resulting in five deaths on the Peshmerga side.
Last Friday, Iraqi security forces announced the conclusion to an operation that was part of the latest effort to engage members of the terror group. According to Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, the campaign targeted areas located north of Miqdadiya district in Diyala Province, as well as north of Jalawla and Khanaqin.
Editing by Nadia Riva