Peshmerga forces withdrew from the area following the Iraqi government takeover in October 2017. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – ISIS militants kidnapped two Kurdish men from a village in Daquq, south of Kirkuk on Thursday and stole medical equipment from a health centre, according to police.
An ambulance driver named Sabah Tahir and another man named Sherwan Mahmood were abducted, Daquq police said in a statement. Militants also raided a health centre in the village of Haftaghar, making off with medicines and equipment.
Police say they have launched an investigation into the incident.
Residents of Daquq have repeatedly called on Baghdad to secure the district from ISIS remnants operating in the area.
Kurds living in Daquq are abandoning their homes, fearing the resurgence of ISIS. Iraqi security forces are only present inside the cities and larger towns of southern and western Kirkuk, leaving swathes of the countryside undefended.
“ISIS militants openly and especially during night time break into the village buying whatever they need at the shops and bazaars,” one Haftaghar resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Rudaw. ISIS groups are also ambushing Iraqis on main roads, he added.
The Kurdish Peshmerga withdrew from the area in October 2017 following a takeover by Iraqi forces supported by Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias. The resulting security gaps have allowed ISIS remnants to regroup and to move unrestricted.
On Wednesday, at least seven civilians were killed
in two separate car bombings in Mosul and Salahaddin province, local officials said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017 following the liberation of Mosul and other urban centres controlled by the jihadist group.
However, Iraqi and coalition forces now admit ISIS militants and sleeper cells still exist in parts of Iraq, reverting to their earlier guerrilla insurgency tactics.