Attack in Iraq’s Kirkuk over, 74 ISIL jihadists dead, says governor
AFP photoIraqi security forces on Oct. 24 ended an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Kirkuk city, killing at least 74 jihadists in three days of clashes, the provincial governor said, while Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul faced stiff resistance from the jihadist group.
“The attack is over and life has returned to normal,” Najmeddin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk province, told AFP.
“The security forces have killed more than 74 Daesh [ISIL] terrorists and detained several others, including their leader.”
Karim said the initial confessions of the ringleader confirmed reports that around 100 fighters attacked Kirkuk early Oct. 21, some of them sleeper cells that joined up with militants infiltrating the city.
Some attackers are also believed to have fled the city on Oct. 22, later clashing with security forces in rural areas east of Kirkuk.
The spectacular attack led to three days of clashes that left at least 46 people dead, mostly members of the security forces, and the Kurdish-controlled city under curfew.
The brazen raid on Kirkuk, which lies in an oil-rich area around 240 kilometers north of Baghdad, appeared to be an attempt by ISIL to divert attention from Mosul.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul faced stiff resistance from ISIL despite the U.S.-led coalition unleashing an unprecedented wave of air strikes to support the week-old offensive.
Federal forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters were moving forward in several areas, AFP correspondents on various fronts said, but the jihadists were hitting back with shelling, sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps.
Following a weekend visit to Iraq by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, American officials said the coalition was providing the most air support yet to the operation.
“One week into Mosul operation, all objectives met thus far, and more coalition air strikes than any other 7-day period of war against ISIL,” Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy to the 60-nation coalition, wrote on social media.
“There were 32 strikes with 1,776 munitions delivered against Daesh targets for the week of Oct. 17-Oct. 23,” the spokesman for the coalition, Colonel John Dorrian, told AFP.
He said those strikes had destroyed 136 ISIL fighting positions, 18 tunnels and 26 car bombs.