PHOTO: Iraqi forces in Qayyarah, south of Mosul
Responding to the Iraqi-Kurdish offensive against its main position in Mosul, the Islamic State has attacked government and security buildings in the city of Kirkuk.
ISIS fighters detonated at least three car bombs and clashed with security forces on Friday, briefly occupying the formr Kirkuk police station and attacking a power plant.
Kirkuk officials said that at least ten fighters were killed, while ten employees of the power plant died amid suicide bombings.
Sarhad Qadir, the Kirkuk police chief, asked residents of the city “to stay indoors until the situation is under control”.
He asserted, “Some people in Kirkuk have been collaborating with ISIS,”
The Kirkuk Governor, Najmaldin Karim, added, “It was expected that ISIS sleeper cells would make a move one day in Kirkuk now that the Mosul offensive has started and they want to boost their own morale this way.”
Kirkuk lies on the edge of Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of the country. Important for its proximity to oil, it has a diverse Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen population.
“Fierce” Battles Outside Mosul
Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to face stiff resistance on their three-front attack on Mosul, Iraq’s second city, which was taken by ISIS in June 2014.
One Kurdish fighter told a British reporter that 45 of his colleagues were killed on Thursday in battles with the Islamic State.
Unofficial fig. from Kurdish fighter – 45 of his men killed yesterday. ISIS contesting ground, slowing advance, resisting till death.
— Jonathan Rugman (@jrug) October 21, 2016
Iraqi forces, supported by attack helicopters, are trying to take the town of Bartella, 15km east of Mosul’s outskirts.
“After we break them in Bartella, everywhere else they will crumble,” Major-General Fadhil Barwari said.
He claimed that there were few ISIS fighters left in the town, but the Islamic State still held the area — important because it is near to a road leading into Mosul — late Thursday night.