by WorldTribune Staff, October 23, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) on Oct. 21 launched a major attack on the Iraqi city of Kirkuk in what was seen as a move to divert the Iraq army’s attention from the battle for Mosul.
ISIL’s attack killed 18 people, including members of Iraqi security forces and workers at an Iranian-run construction site outside the city, a hospital source told Reuters. Kirkuk lies in a key oil-producing region in Iraq.
At least eight jihadists were killed in the attack, either by blowing themselves up or in clashes with security forces, Reuters quoted security sources as saying. Kurdish forces dislodged the jihadists from all police and public buildings they had seized before dawn, the sources said.
The jihadists who attacked Kirkuk came from outside the city, said Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati, the head of Iraq’s Special Forces.
Iraqi government forces captured eight villages south and southeast of Mosul since launching an offensive to retake the city earlier this week. Kurdish forces attacking from the north and east also captured several villages, according to statements from military commanders.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Oct. 21 that Turkey and Iraq had reached an agreement in principle that could allow a Turkish role in the Mosul campaign. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had insisted earlier this month that Turkish forces would not participate in any way in the battle for Mosul.
About 1.5 million residents are still believed to be inside Mosul. ISIL has taken 550 families from villages around Mosul and is holding them in the city, probably as human shields, the UN human rights office said.
Meanwhile, reports on Oct. 22 said that a U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed 15 women at a shrine near Kirkuk.
“Fifteen women were killed and another 50 wounded in a raid that targeted a Shi’ite place of worship at Dakuk,” local council chief Amir Huda Karam told AFP.
The Pentagon said that it was “aware of the report,” but did not have “any information to provide right now.”
“We are still looking into what happened — whether we had any aircraft flying over the area at the time. Once we get a solid hand on what actually took place there, we will provide information very soon. So right now we don’t have any information to provide.”