Body of an ISIS militant lies on the ground near the Peshmerga positions west of Tuz Khurmatu on August 16, 2017. Photo: Rudaw TV
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish Peshmerga repelled an ISIS attack described as “intense” west of Tuz Khurmatu Tuesday night that resulted in casualties on both sides, the latest in a series of attacks by the group south of Kirkuk.
Three Peshmerga were killed and eight were injured, Rudaw’s correspondent Hiwa Hussamaddin reported.
During the attack, the two sides came in close engagement, with ISIS militants using hand grenades and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs).
When Rudaw visited the place on Wednesday morning, the body of one ISIS militant could still be seen in the area.
Kamaran Ahmed, a Peshmerga commander on the front, told Rudaw that the ISIS militants were not able to gain any ground and were pushed back. On his front, he added, no Peshmerga were killed but some were injured.
The militants reportedly used motorbikes during the attack that targeted the Peshmerga from three fronts.
The Peshmerga were ready for ISIS with an ambush in place, Hiwa Hussamaddin reported.
Tuesday’s attack comes as ISIS has become more active in areas close to the Hamrin mountain range that separates Kurdistan’s southern border with the rest of Iraq.
Video: Kurdish Peshmerga know where ISIS will go next
A Peshmerga official said that the recent attacks are part of a new strategy by the extremist group in the area.
“In the past, the used to have a known front against Peshmerga,” said Mohammed Ahmad. “But since they have become weaker, they are creating units in the area. And at the outset of their regrouping, they are establishing relations with the people who belong to them in the area.”
He said one such strategy is planting bombs on the roads.
A bomb believed to have been planted by the militants killed a family of five on Tuesday in the village of Homarmandan near Tuz Khurmatu and Qara Tapa.
Ahmad Mustafa, an intelligence Peshmerga officer said that this proves ISIS is taking its last breath and they want to prove through these attacks that “they still exist.” He said the militants will lose such capabilities as soon as they are defeated in places like Hawija, south of Kirkuk.
The militants also blew up three electricity towers this week, cutting off electricity supply to Qara Tapa and its surrounding villages for 48 hours.
ISIS recently declared their self-styled state (Wlayah) in the Hamrin region.
Qara Tapa is situated just north of Lake Hamrin, on the road that leads to Tuz Khurmatu and then on to Kirkuk.
On Friday, three Peshmerga were killed in an ISIS attack in Daquq, south of Kirkuk. Another two were killed on July 29 in an ISIS attack near Tuz Khurmatu.
On July 26, militants launched a surprise attack against the Kakei village of Alud Pasha south of Kirkuk where they killed four people, three of whom were members of one family.
Kurdish forces have complained that operations against ISIS in Tel Afar have been prioritized over an offensive in the areas south of Kirkuk and Hawija.