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Iraq: 'Islamic State' launch attacks in contested region

Alex Berry
December 6, 2021

At least two Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been killed after IS militants launched an attack near Kirkuk. Northern Iraq has seen a recent uptick in IS activities.

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter firing a rifle
'Islamic State' militants have carried out a series of attacks on villages in northern Iraq in revent weeksImage: AFP/Getty Images/J. Lopez

Militants from the so-called "Islamic State" carried out a series of attacks in northern Iraq on Sunday, in an area contested by Kurdish forces and Baghdad, local media reported.

One attack by IS militants on the village of Qara Salem near the northern city of Kirkuk on Sunday evening left at least two Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers dead, Kurdish media said.

The Peshmerga Ministry, belonging to the Kurdistan Regional Government which rules a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, told news site Rudaw: "There were casualties and injuries among the ranks of the Peshmerga forces. The terrorists were chased off and the situation is under control."

The militants have been carrying out hit-and-run assaults during the night, a Peshmerga colonel told Reuters

"They avoid holding the ground for longer time ... More reinforcement forces were dispatched to the area to prevent further attacks," he said.

Militants surround remote village

Earlier on Sunday, IS launched a separate attack on the village of Luhaiban, also in the Kirkuk province.

All the villagers were reportedly evacuated after a group of around two dozen armed militants surrounded the village.

"There were only ten families left, and they decided to leave today," the village chief told news site Kurdistan24.

The village had come under repeated attacks in recent days. Reuters cited a security source saying that the village had fallen to the radical Islamist group.

What happened to IS in Iraq?

The attacks took place in a rather remote territory that is disputed by the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Erbil.

IS rose to notoriety in 2014 after taking over large swathes of Iraq and Syria. However, by 2017 it had lost most of its gains.

Groups claiming loyalty to IS have popped up in several countries, with groups in Afghanistan and West Africa having the most impact.

A recent uptick in attacks by the group in Iraq coincides with a general level of unrest and dissatisfaction with the government in Baghdad as well as violent protests over the results of the country's recent parliamentary election.

Reuters contributed to this report

Edited by: John Silk