Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire missiles during clashes with militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group in Jalawla in the Diyala province. File photo: AFP
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DUHOK – Kurdish army of the Peshmerga started fortifying the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq in a bid to protect the oil-rich city against the threat of the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS), officials said on Monday.
The Peshmerga forces started last week digging a trench along the southern suburb of Kirkuk, which has been exposed to ISIS offensive over the past few months.
Kamal Kerkuki, member of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraqi Kurdistan Region, told reporters on Monday that the trench being worked on by the Peshmerga forces is aimed at maintaining the security in the city of Kirkuk against any aggression by ISIS terrorists.
Speaking to ARA News in Kirkuk, Peshmerga official Qassim Khourshid said: “ISIS terrorists have repeatedly tried to infiltrate into Kirkuk to hit headquarters of the Peshmerga and take over the city’s oil fields.”
“The trench will serve as a fortification against any offensive by the terror group,” he said.
Khourshid added that the trench project may continue to include most of the borders of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq in order to protect the region’s people and resources against ISIS threat.
“This fortification is not aimed at separating the region from Iraq completely. Its main objective is to protect the Kurdistan Region which has sheltered thousands of Iraqis who escaped ISIS,” he said. “The Peshmerga proved its effective role in the war on this terror group, and the protection of civilians and the public properties have always been a top priority for our army.”
Kirkuk oil fields produce up to 500,000 barrels per day, according to official reports. ISIS has tried earlier to storm the city from the southern suburb, but the Peshmerga forces repelled the attacks in cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition’s air force.
Reporting by: Ali Issa
Source: ARA News