Iraqi police forces patrolling the disputed city of Kirkuk. AFP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A former security official from Kirkuk estimates thousands of ISIS militants are still in Kirkuk, and Iraq’s civil authorities are not capable of separating the militants from the rest of the populace, particularly in the Hawija pocket.
“ISIS movements have increased in Daquq near Zarga village and in the Rashad district. They infiltrate into the population at night and return to their havens in daylight. A few nights ago, they attacked Iraqi forces in Albo Mohammed and Gheda villages,” Sarhad Qadr, the former head of Kirkuk Suburban Police, told Rudaw.
On Sunday, ISIS attacked and killed an unspecified number of Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary units in Rashad.
“They have killed more than 20 Hashd al-Shaabi militants from near Rashad district to Hamrin mount and Wadi Khanazir. They can also be spotted in Abbasi and Zab districts, attacking at nighttime,” added Qadr.
Qadr says ISIS militants, who he numbers at 2,000 in Kirkuk, have killed the head of Riyadh’s police department and the officer’s son, and a number of the officer’s bodyguards.
“There are a large number of ISIS militants in Rashad, Hawija, and Riyadh. They can be clearly seen at Rodkhana and Kodara lakes, but they are not in control of territory in any one place. They only carry out killings and explosions against Iraqi and Hashd al-Shaabi forces,” Kawa Mama Parwiz, the former head of Tuz Khurmatu’s police, who is now a police chief in Kirkuk, told Rudaw.
Parwiz added that the ISIS militants typically conduct their raids of buildings for food and drink at night.
ISIS remains in the area because of an alleged agreement when Iraqi forces cleared the Hawija pocket in October 2017.
“ISIS did not resist during the operation of controlling Hawija and the controlling [of the area] was according to an agreement, therefore those [ISIS] militants who were and are still there and have not been killed,” claimed Parwiz.
Burhan Asi, a member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council’s Security Committee, is urging Iraqi authorities to act now and not wait because ISIS “is a threat to Kirkuk and Saladin.”
“ISIS militants are present in some areas in western Kirkuk and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) should conduct a broad military operation to exterminate them in western Kirkuk,” Asi told Rudaw.
Mohammed Wagaa, the spokesperson for Nineveh Operation Command, sees a shift from military intervention to civil agents.
“We will arrest them through intelligence information,” Wagaa told Rudaw.
Qadir doesn’t trust the Iraqi authorities to do the job as well as Kurdish entities during the ISIS conflict.
“There is fear of their resurgence,” warned Qadir, explaining that before the October 16 events
“those people who came to Kirkuk were investigated by Asayish [Kurdish security] and police, and the camps were under observation.”
Security forces in Kirkuk and Saladin conducted a broad operation against ISIS on March 3, arresting a score of ISIS militants. Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi killed a number of ISIS militants in west Kirkuk.
“Rapid Response forces killed 17 ISIS fighters, including a number of known leaders who were wanted per Article 4 of Terrorism [Act], in the Badosh area in west Mosul during a security operation,” stated Iraq’s Joint Operations Command on March 3.
ISIS attacked an ISF checkpoint in west Mosul, killing four soldiers and injuring two.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared ISIS militarily defeated
in December 2017.