Kirkuk, a major city in the Kurdish region of Iraq, has witnessed a de facto ISIS invasion through jihadist sleeper cells, many of which posed as refugees while in fact carefully preparing an insurgency to capture the city.
Amaq Agency’s latest video from Kirkuk, released on Saturday, shows Islamic State journalists interviewing the city’s inhabitants after claiming large portions of the city to be lost by Peshmerga forces.
— Chris Tomson (@TheDaneChris) October 23, 2016
Remarkably, Kirkuk is located some 20 kilometers from the actual Islamic State frontline at Hawija. In what can be seen as a last-ditch effort to divert attention from the Mosul campaign, ISIS commanders will likely pursue an offensive aimed at connecting the Hawija enclave with ISIS insurgents in Kirkuk city.
The current rate of control is unbeknownst to Al-Masdar News; however, ISIS combattants are still held up in the contested city. Jihadist militants maintain positions in several key suburbs in the southern part of the city, including the Wasiti neighbourhood, Tesin district, and Askeri neighbourhood.
According to a Peshmerga official, Kurdish forces did nevertheless repel an ISIS attack on the rural outskirts south of Kirkuk, at Mala Abdullah village; meanwhile, heavy skirmishes embroil the city of Kirkuk itself as we speak.
The Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – an ally of the Baghdad Government – has also moved into the city to assist the Kurdish Peshmerga, killing 48 jihadists during clashes yesterday.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) October 23, 2016