After deadly attack, Kurdistan Region PM says, 'We have repeatedly warned of ISIS threats'

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Following a deadly attack that killed five Peshmerga fighters and wounded others, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Sunday told commanders “to be better prepared” for such incidents in the future.

This is needed, he said, especially in territories disputed by Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region, where ISIS has long taken advantage of the lack of a lack of unified security strategy.  

“I’m very saddened for losing a number of heroic Peshmerga who were trying to save their comrades-in-arms in the town of Kolajo last night,” Barzani said in a statement.

“I send my deep condolences to the families of the victims,” he said, adding that he also wished “a speedy recovery for the injured Peshmerga.”

The attack, which the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs claimed was carried out by ISIS militants late Saturday night, killed five Peshmerga fighters and wounded four others in a disputed area of Diyala province.

Read More: Late night ISIS attack in Diyala province kills 5 Peshmerga fighters

“ISIS snipers injured four Peshmerga fighters in the beginning,” a Peshmerga source told Kurdistan 24.

“Then,” he continued, “ISIS attacked a Peshmerga military vehicle with IEDs, killing five Peshmerga members, including two Peshmerga officers and three Peshmerga fighters,” adding that the forces then launched a counterattack to regain control of the situation, he explained.

Barzani wrote, “We have repeatedly warned of ISIS threats,” and stressed that the group still poses an immediate danger to residents and security forces alike in the disputed territories.

The prime minister emphasized the necessity of further activating joint security centers run by federal and regional forces together.

“For this purpose, I told the Kurdistan Region Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs to be better prepared and make necessary procedures to limit and eliminate ISIS threats against Peshmerga forces and the residents of these areas.”

After the Kurdistan Region's 2017 independence referendum, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in October 2017 pushed the Peshmerga out of contested areas, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province

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.

The Iraqi military announced in early November that it had launched a joint military operation with Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces to pursue ISIS remnants in territories disputed by Baghdad and Erbil where the extremist organization has long exploited the security vacuum caused by gaps between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces.

Read More: Peshmerga warns of rising ISIS threat in post-election Iraq