Kurdish villagers in Iraq's disputed Makhmour district repel ISIS attack

On Thursday evening, the people of the Kurdish village of Ali-Rash in the Baqrte sub-district in the disputed Makhmour district repelled an ISIS insurgent attack.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Thursday night, residents of a Kurdish village in the disputed Iraqi district of Makhmour repelled an insurgent attack of the Islamic State, according to Kurdish military officials.

The Ministry of Peshmerga, in an official statement released on their Facebook page, announced that on Thursday at 7 pm, the terrorist group’s militants attempted to infiltrate the village of Ali-Rash, located in Baqrte sub-district. Residents of the village who are members of the Peshmerga, according to the statement, faced the intruders head-on, leading to armed clashes between them.

As the residents worked together to stave off the attack, the perpetrators eventually withdrew into the darkness. 

Soon after, the ministry released a video in which a portion of the battle is heard and briefly seen. 

One of the fighters who worked to defend the village told local media that a unit of “special forces from the Iraqi military arrived in the village after the attack to prevent any further insurgent operations in the area.”    

He also claimed that residents were well aware that “around 1,000 ISIS members exist in the foothills of Qarachokh Mountain in Makhmour district who are active during the night time.”

Ali-Rash is located at the base of the mountain range, an area that had been previously evacuated due to the local threat that remnants of the Islamic State pose. 

Makhmour is located in an area disputed by the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Region, some 60 kilometers southwest of Erbil. Following the liberation of Mosul, Islamic State militants gathered in surrounding disputed and vulnerable areas which included Makhmour and Qarachokh Mountain. 

The security void in areas between territory protected by Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga forces sometimes reaches up to 20 kilometers deep. The rugged, barren terrain that is often seen in such areas has been a haven for Islamic State fighters who use it as a base from which to plan and launch attacks in surrounding settlements and towns.

Recently, members of the extremist group have carried out a series of terrorist attacks on both the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in such areas in or near other disputed territories, killing dozens. This has led to some Kurdish villagers nearby to request additional protection from Peshmerga forces.

Read More: After ISIS attacks, villagers in Kurdistan Region call for security outpost

Officials from Kurdistan, along with civilians in the disputed territories, have often called for a long-term joint security plan between the Erbil and Baghdad to fill the often deadly security gaps. So far, however, Baghdad has not been meaningfully addressed the issue.   

Editing by John J. Catherine