Iraqi Kurdistan’s security forces capture ISIS sleeper cells in Kirkuk, Zakho

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ISIS militants arrested by Kurdish security forces on Thursday. Photo: KRSC

ARA News  

ERBIL – Security forces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq arrested Thursday several Islamic State (ISIS) members in Kirkuk and Zakho, showing the effectiveness of the Kurdish security forces. 

“In Zakho, our forces arrested a network of 12 terrorists,” Hemin Hawrami, head of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Foreign Relations Office, told ARA News, adding that local people have helped the security forces in finding and arresting members of the ISIS sleeper cell. “People are extremely helpful, they have excellent experience and are dedicated.” 

The suspects were Arabs and Kurds from the Mosul city of Nineveh province, security sources told ARA News. 

Also on Thursday, the Kurdistan Regional Security Council forces released the photos of three ISIS members who were recently captured in Kirkuk Province. 

“Counter-Terrorism forces arrested three ISIS members responsible for attacks on Peshmerga on 12 March in West Kirkuk, their names are Shaker Nasraddin Qersh, known as Abu Osama and Abu Othman – Ibrahim Mahmoud Asaad, known as Abu Khalil and Mohanad Nasraddin Qersh,” the KRSC said in a statement. 

“This is the third ISIS network our Counter-Terrorism Department has disrupted in 2016. We will continue to protect Kurdistan’s communities,” the council said.

The General Directorate of the KRSC stated that the suspects were arrested following an intelligent operation in Kirkuk, adding they were involved in planning a suicide attack on Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk on March 12. 

“This shows that the Kurdistan Region security forces are effective in fighting terrorism not only in the frontlines, but also to protect the people of Kurdistan Region, inside the cities of the Region,” reporter of Kurdistan 24 Baxtiyar Goran said. 

“The security forces and Peshmerga troops are now protecting nearly 10 million people from Zakho to Khanaqin, including 1.5 million IDPs and 250,000 Syrian refugees,” he told ARA News.  

“ISIS remains a danger not only to Kurdistan but to the whole world, because the radical group cannot be eradicated by mere airstrikes and the liberation of cities, ISIS should be fought ideologically,” Goran added. 

“There must be an effective blockade on all the means that allow ISIS influence vulnerable Muslim population across the world, especially that the jihadi group mainly relies on social media to recruit people and launch terrorist activities,” the journalist said. 

Ranj Talabani, a member of the Kurdish Zaniyari intelligence in the Sulaimani Forum organized on 17th March, suggested that also 500 to 600 Kurds joined the Islamic State. However, many of them were killed in joint Kurdish-US-led coalition operations, including Mullah Shwan who was killed in February. 

Speaking to ARA News, Muhanid, 22, an ISIS member who was arrested in Kirkuk in November 2015, said that he was surprised being arrested by Kurdish security forces. 

“I did not have a lot of contact with ISIS emirs, just [emir] Fallah al-Kurdi for three days,” he told ARA News in prison. “I don’t know how they arrested me, they came to my house, and arrested me,” he added. “I didn’t have any position, I was just helping them [ISIS jihadis].”

Moreover, Fallah al-Kurdi (Said Majid al-Barzanji), an ISIS-leader who planned the US consulate attack in April 2015, was killed by in an airstrike by the US coalition on 1 October 2015, as a result of US-Kurdish intelligence coordination.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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