Aftermath of Tuesday's bomb shelling on the city of Tuz Khurmatu which caused casualties among Hashd al-Shaabi militants. Photo: DHA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The town of Tuz Khurmatu came under mortar bombardments on Tuesday for a second time this week causing casualties among Hashd al-Shaabi fighters. And Iraqi aircraft bombed Kurdish inhabited villages around the town.
“A number of mortars were fired on Tuz Khurmatu Tuesday,” Hassan Baram, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official from Tuz Khurmatu who now lives in Naujul town, confirmed to Rudaw, adding that per their knowledge, a number of the Hashd al-Shaabi fighters were killed or wounded.
Baram added that in response to the mortar attacks, the Hashd fighters shelled Mount Hanjira near Tuz Khurmatu.
He said it remained unknown from where the mortars were fired.
Iraq's Defense Ministry has not issued any statements regarding the incident yet.
In the meantime, a Rudaw reporter from the spot reported that Iraqi military helicopters bombed the Dawouda and Zinana areas. They include a number of Kurdish villages.
Some of these villages are under the control of fighters calling themselves 'The Liberation Army' where hundreds of Tuz Khurmatu IDPs are stationed following the October 16 incidents.
Turkey expressed "great sorrow" of Sunday's attack that killed two people and wounded seven more in the town. No group claimed responsibility for that attack in Tuz Khurmatu.
Tuz Khurmatu fell to Iraqi forces when Peshmerga was driven out during their military incursion into the disputed areas, which also include the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, in mid-October.
Tuz Khurmatu in Salahaddin Province is about 60 kilometers south of Kirkuk. It is a disputed or Kurdistani area claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil.
Two armed groups, one known to be comprised of Kurds, have since been reported in the area.
One Kurdish group calls themselves The Liberation Army and their objective is to fight Iraqi forces, especially the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, who is accused of committing human rights violations against Tuz Khurmatu's Kurdish population.
They are comprised of around 200 fighters including former Peshmerga and have set up their base east of Tuz Khurmatu.
The second group, whose identities remain unknown, has an estimated 500 members. They had been deployed along the mountain range between Tuz Khurmatu and Kifri, but have reportedly left their positions and moved further south.