Kirkuk – Kurdish security forces announced on Monday that they had arrested many of the Islamic State (ISIS) militants responsible for the last Friday’s deadly attack in Kirkuk city.
“[The] ISIS terrorists behind the Kirkuk attack were arrested today during an operation by our Counter-Terrorism Department in coordination with the Asayish,” the Kurdistan Security Council said in a statement. The Asayish are the Kurdistan Region’s primary intelligence agency.
The Kurdistan Security Council also said that the Islamic State’s commander in Kirkuk was killed while resisting arrest. “Abu Qudama, a senior ISIS military figure in Hawija, led the group responsible for Friday’s attack. Today he was killed in a firefight,” the council said.
Last week, ISIS militants managed to infiltrate 17km behind the Peshmerga’s defensive lines. They reportedly snuck into Kirkuk city through a security gap between Bashir and Daqur. The jihadists then divided into small teams which assaulted security buildings and a power station.
According to Kirkuk’s Governor, Najmiddin Karim, more than 70 ISIS militants died in the attack after they ran into determined resistance. Kurdish Peshmerga have been withdrawn from Nineveh Governorate’s frontlines to reinforce security in Kirkuk.
ISIS supporters in the city of Mosul celebrated the Kirkuk attack, describing it as “a holy victory.” Experts told ARA News that the raid was meant to delay the Hawija operation, which was initially planned two weeks ago.
“We were expecting attacks on Kirkuk, as the battle for Mosul has begun and Hawija becomes the next target,” Ranj Talabani, a Kurdish security analyst, told ARA News.
“Kirkuk has been kept relatively safe until today and it’s clear that ISIS have spent a lot of time planning today’s operations,” he said. “We have some ISIS fighters in custody so once they are interviewed it will be clearer how they entered the city in such large numbers.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News