ISIS hits Kirkuk, opens a 2nd front behind Mosul

Kurdish General. Mariwan Mohammed
No one doubted that the US-Iraqi-Kurdish offensive to liberate Mosul would be drawn out and fraught with unforeseen setbacks before the Islamic State was finally thrown out of its Iraqi capital. But on Oct. 21, five days into the Mosul operation, the ISIS terrorists landed their most severe blow, when Islamist fighters and suicide bombers suddenly hurled themselves on the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk in a coordinated attack. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that taking advantage of a chance to catch the US, Iraqi and Kurdish generals leading the attack on Mosul unawares, the Islamist fighters were able to open a second front to the rear of the main battle arena against ISIS.

Kirkuk is some 175km southeast of Mosul and 230km from Baghdad. By hitting this important oil city, the terrorists came close to enough to menace the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government region and its capital, Irbil, and expose the Kurdish Peshmerga troops fighting for Mosul.
Our military sources note that a large Peshmerga force of some 11,000 troops had been posted to secure the town and its oil fields, under the command of Gen. Mariwan Mohammed. But then, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, the US-Iraqi-Kurdish joint command of the Mosul offensive decided that Kurdish reinforcements were necessary to provide the operation with greater impetus. The extra Peshmerga troops were accordingly ordered to set out from Khazar, 40 km east of Mosul, and join the coalition offensive.
However, what they missed, despite the mainly American spy satellites, drones and reconnaissance planes collecting intelligence, was an ISIS concentration clandestinely building up at Hawja, 57km east of Kirkuk. According to our military sources, some of the jihadists reported by the Western media to have turned tail on the run from Mosul had been gathering to the southeast, some 57km from Kirkuk. They stood ready to attack that town. Their opportunity came when the large Kurdish group exited Kirkuk and headed out to Mosul. Kirkuk was left exposed without defenders. Friday morning, the Islamic State launched its surprise attack on the defenseless oil city. Its fighters and suicide bombers slammed into four police stations, Kurdish security offices, residential neighborhoods and a power station to the north. Clashes continued during the day with unknown casualty figures on both sides.
At some point, the governor claimed control of the city was regained but residents reported the clashes continued. ISIS said in a statement it had seized “half the city” and had also attacked the Dubiz power plant, killing all the security forces inside, but the claims were not possible to verify…. [Full Source by Debka]

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