Shiite militia fighters in Iraq. AP photo.
by Samie Zubair
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region - Kurdish Peshmerga forces detained a group of Shiite militia fighters south of Kirkuk Thursday on suspicion of kidnapping, military officials told Rudaw on condition of anonymity.
A group of nine Shiite militants travelling with six captives, including two Kurds, was stopped at a Peshmerga checkpoint in the Kirkuk suburb of Dubz. They were arrested after the identities of the captives, who were reported missing in September, were established.
Tensions have been high between the Peshmerga and Shiite militias in the so-called disputed territories which were recently freed from Islamic State (ISIS), partly in joint operations. Shiite militia groups were originally deployed to the area to support the Iraqi and Kurdish fight against ISIS, but have remained in the volatile territories despite a retreat by the militants, Kurdish officials say.
In November, two convoys of Shiite paramilitary forces arrived in Kirkuk’s southern outskirts, as assaults intensified in the area against ISIS. Sources told Rudaw that the Al-Ahbab and Al-Nasr brigades have been stationed just 15 km south of the oil-rich city with heavy artillery and medium range missiles.
Kirkuk’s police chief told Rudaw that clashes between ISIS and Kurdish security forces in the outskirts of the city continue as the jihadists attack the city suburbs with mortars.
“They attack Peshmerga positions in the outskirts and the Peshmerga respond,” Police Major Sarhad Qadir told Rudaw, though describing the overall situation as calm.
Airstrikes targeting ISIS positions in the suburbs of Kirkuk resumed on Friday afternoon.