Kirkuk Governor: security is under control

Governor of Kirkuk

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Since Peshmerga took control of Kirkuk, a vast area of the province has been liberated from Islamic State (IS), and the security situation is completely under control, Kirkuk’s Governor said on Saturday.

Dr. Najmaldin Karim, Governor of Kirkuk Province, specializes in Neurosurgery and received his degree from George Washington University (US). Karim was a founding member of the Kurdish National Congress of North America and its president from 1991 to 1999. He testified before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June 1990 regarding Saddam Hussein’s brutality against the Kurds. Karim was elected Governor in 2011 and re-elected in 2014.

On Saturday, Karim told K24 that the security situation in Kirkuk has improved to a level he considers as safe as other cities in Kurdistan Region. He stated that Peshmerga forces have protected Kirkuk against IS extremists, and have also cleared large swaths throughout the province.

Karim explained that the extremists’ attack on Kirkuk in January was the most serious attempt by the militants in the city. Additionally, IS social media channels advertised the attack as an effort to overrun Kirkuk.

Nonetheless, Peshmerga forces emerged victorious, despite receiving many martyrs, including several high-ranking Generals. After this attack, Peshmerga took the offensive, pushing about 15 kilometers (9 miles) into IS-controlled territories.

The Governor explained the dire situation of the many thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and stated that more than 550,000 IDPs have found shelter in the province.

Some families who come from IS-controlled areas are sometimes thought of as IS sympathizers, and this results in social problems among people,” Karim revealed.

Expanding on security coordination in the city, Karim added, “We hold regular meetings every two weeks in the Kirkuk [Province] Security Council.” Asayish, Kirkuk Police, National Security, Iraqi intelligence, and other representatives regularly attend these meetings, he stated.

Karim also shed light on the presence of Hashd al-Shabi stationed throughout the outskirts of Kirkuk. “Hashd al-Shabi is a temporary force combatting IS in Bashir [25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Kirkuk]; they are not a part of the city’s security forces.”

Reporting by Ehsan Mamakani
Editing by Benjamin Kweskin and Karzan Sulaivany