An Iraqi army soldier stands guard at a position outside of the town of Khurmatu, south of Kirkuk. AFP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An unknown armed group numbering around 200 has been stationed in two villages near Tuz Khurmatu south of Kirkuk, a local official said.
"For a while now an unknown group has been stationed near Palkana Salim and Palkana Sedakan villages,” Mullah Karim Shukur, a local Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official told Rudaw.
He believed that around 200 men made up the group.
Shukur said they had information that Kurds and Arabs were inside the group yet they did not belong to either the Iraqi army nor the Kurdish Peshmerga.
He added the group's location is opposite Sleman Beg 25 kilometers south of Tuz Khurmatu.
He described their location as "a mountainous area" which lies between the Peshmerga and Iraqi army positions, adding the armed men's identities have so far remained unknown.
According to Mullah Hassan Garmiani, a Kurdish member of the Salahadin Provincial Council, who has also been displaced to Sulaimani, members of the group had refused to answer when asked by locals if they were associated with ISIS.
Tuz Khurmatu fell to the Iraqi army and Iran-backed Shiite groups on October 16.