ISIS launched 4,887 attacks in 4 years in disputed Kirkuk
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – ISIS launched about 4,887 attacks on security forces and civilians in Iraq's disputed Kirkuk province in less than four years, statistics seen by Kurdistan 24 show.
The number of attacks the terrorist group has conducted in and around Kirkuk province and other disputed areas has seen a noticeable uptick since the Kurdish Peshmerga withdrew in October 2017, the data indicates. The figures cover the period after the Kurdish forces left in late 2017 up until the end of 2020.
In retaliation for the Kurdistan Region's 2017 independence referendum, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) pushed the Peshmerga out of contested areas.
Since then, the areas have suffered from a lack of unified military strategy across large tracts of land ranging from Khanaqin in central Diyala province to Kirkuk and northward to multiple areas surrounding Mosul.
ISIS cells continue to carry out insurgency-style attacks, especially in rural parts of the disputed territories. In one recent incident, members of the terrorist organization killed one person and wounded 19 others in an assault on a village west of Kirkuk.
Residents of the area have in response reiterated their demands for the return of the Peshmerga forces to counter ISIS movements.
"Even if they brought thousands of armed men to the area, we don’t know them, and we don’t know if they will protect us," one local Zara Hassan told Kurdistan 24. We will "still live in fear until the return of the Peshmerga to the area," she added.
The Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Peshmerga has previously stated that it is in talks with the federal government about arming two joint brigades with the Iraqi army in the disputed areas.
This came after Erbil and Baghdad reached an agreement last year to form four joint security coordination centers to address ISIS remnants in those areas.