Exploiting yesterday’s fog as a cover from coalition airstrikes, ISIL deployed hundreds of militants to Kirkuk – a city in Northern Iraq under Kurdish control. By nightfall, ISIL militants had launched a surprise attack on Peshmerga (Kurdish soldiers protecting Iraqi Kurdistan) positions in the city. The ensuing fierce battle killed 8 Peshmerga fighters and over 105 ISIL terrorists. Among the dead was Brigadier General Shirko Fatih who commanded the First Brigade of the Pershmerga forces.
ISIL launched the attack by deploying an initial wave of suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Peshmerga outposts. This was closely followed by a military assault by hundreds of ISIL militants in armored combat vehicles. The city perimeter defenses were breached and the terrorists were able to gain entry into the city centre where an intense firefight forced them to pull back to the outskirts of the city.
A counter-attack by Pershmerga troops ended the lives of dozens of terrorists. Moreover, ISIL terrorists who were holed up in the Palace Hotel in Kirkuk city centre were also killed. ISIL counteracted by launching waves upon waves of suicide bombers who detonated themselves in the hope of slowing the Peshmerga counter-attack but their efforts were futile. By the end of the battle, ISIL had been pushed out of Kirkuk city.
SIS considers this recent ISIL onslaught as a diversionary attack which was intended to ease the pressure that Peshmerga forces have placed on the ISIL-held city of Mosul. Pershmerga has led a military offensive to liberate Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city – from ISIL terrorists. There also exists a possibility that ISIL hoped to capture Kirkuk and its huge oil deposits as a strategy to strengthen its financial and territorial asset base. It is advisable for coalition forces to re-orient their strategy against ISIL terrorists. ISIL still possesses the capabilities to harass Iraqi populations outside their control and this vitiates the successes of the coalition forces. It is also imperative that coalition nations strike back hard on countries which willingly allow their territories to be used as transit routes by jihadists destined for ISIL-controlled lands.