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ISIS launches attack on oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk

ISIS launches attack on oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk thumbnail

ISIS militants have attacked Kirkuk in northern Iraq, an effort that might be an earnest attempt to capture the key oil-rich city or perhaps to divert Kurdish troops fighting to capture the Islamist extremist group’s stronghold of Mosul.

For months, ISIS has been facing off with the Peshmerga — armed fighters who protect Iraqi Kurdistan — to the west of Kirkuk. It had gone into areas on Kirkuk’s outskirts, but not the central city.

Until now, apparently.

Heavily armed militants attacked an abandoned hotel in central Kirkuk that local police had used as their headquarters.

Peshmerga and Kurdish anti-terror units later raided the hotel, wresting control of it from the militants and killing three of them, according to Peshmerga sources. In addition, two suicide bombers detonated themselves in an attempt to keep the Kurdish forces out.

Also Friday, ISIS militants took over Maktab Khalid, an area about 12 miles southwest of Kirkuk, after heavy clashes with the Peshmerga.

Among those killed was Brig. Gen. Shirko Fateh, the highest-ranking operational commander of the Peshmerga brigade located in Kirkuk.

Photos posted by ISIS purportedly show the group’s militants in control of parts of south and southwest Kirkuk, burning tents that had been used by Peshmerga troops.

Chemical weapons expert killed, U.S. says

The U.S. military said Friday that an ISIS chemical weapons expert was killed during a coalition strike late last week.

Abu Malik worked in Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons program before joining al Qaeda in 2005, U.S. Central Command said.

He was killed January 24 near Mosul.

“His death is expected to temporarily degrade and disrupt the terrorist network and diminish (ISIS’) ability to potentially produce and use chemical weapons against innocent people,” the military said.

There is no public evidence that ISIS has a dedicated weapons of mass destruction program.

But U.S. Central Command said: “His past training and experience provided the terrorist group with expertise to pursue a chemical weapons capability.”

Oil reserves make Kirkuk a big prize

Kirkuk is a strategically important city in the months-long fight, one that has pitted ISIS against the Peshmerga, Iraqi government troops and an international coalition that has carried out airstrikes against the terrorist group.

It is one of the few notable cities — apart from the region of Kurdistan and its capital, Irbil — in northern Iraq that haven’t fallen to ISIS. Part of its significance stems from the fact its oil reserves are almost as much as those in southern Iraq.

The Kurds and the central Iraqi government in Baghdad have long wrangled over control of those reserves, with each side wanting to keep hold of them. ISIS, which relies heavily on revenue from oil smuggling to fund its operations, has been coveting them, too.

Peshmerga forces took over the Kirkuk area in June when the Iraqi army crumbled in the face of ISIS’ advances and have played a vital role in defending it from ISIS since.

In December, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack there that killed at least 17 people and injured more than 20. The attack, according to ISIS, was meant to send a message to the Kurdish people and Peshmerga fighters.

Peshmerga progress

Still, Kirkuk is hardly the only place that has seen recent fighting — which may be part of ISIS’ rationale for Friday’s attack there.

The group has been fending off an offensive from Peshmerga fighters around Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and a focal point for all sides in the conflict, that has left the Sunni extremist group on its heels.

The city of 1.5 million people on the Tigris River has been held by ISIS since June. ISIS has invested heavily in governing the city. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, pronounced his leadership of the caliphate at the Grand Mosque there in July.

Kurdish officials say that as long as ISIS holds Mosul, it threatens Kurdistan. Likewise, neither the government in Baghdad nor its coalition partners can rest while terrorists occupy Iraq’s second-largest city.

Peshmerga forces have made steady progress against ISIS north and west of Mosul over the past two months.

They have taken some 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles) of the Sinjar area, as well as the area around the Mosul Dam, choking off access routes and threatening ISIS’ main resupply routes.

Officials: Iraqi forces fend off Ramadi attack

There’s little doubt, though, that ISIS remains a very real force, and threat, in much of Iraq.

The group, which calls itself the Islamic State, still controls a vast swath of that Middle Eastern nation and neighboring Syria. Its goal is to have a vast caliphate under its strict version of Sharia law, with its followers proving they will stop at nothing — having been blamed for the large-scale killings of civilians, mass kidnappings and forcing women and girls to become sex slaves — during its quest.

That violent campaign continued Friday, and not just in Kirkuk.

Dozens of gunmen believed to be from ISIS faced off Friday morning about 175 miles (285 kilometers) away in central Ramadi, police and health officials in that city said.

Several hours later, that onslaught had been foiled and 20 gunmen were dead, according to the officials.

Elsewhere in Ramadi, a suicide car bomb explosion at an Iraqi army checkpoint killed one soldier and wounded six others.

Violence flared in other parts of Iraq as well that, while it hasn’t been tied to ISIS, is further proof of the country’s unsettled state.

Six explosions went off Friday around Baghdad, leaving at least seven dead and 23 wounded, according to police officials.

The deadliest such blast was in Bab Al Sharji, a busy commercial area in central Baghdad, leaving three dead and 10 hurt.


7 Comments on "ISIS launches attack on oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk"

  1. Speculawyer on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:33 pm 

    Glad to hear it. That will give the USA, their allies in the air, and their Pershmerga allies on the ground a chance to slaughter these 4th century loonies.

  2. Plantagenet on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 9:27 pm 


    I enjoyed your post, but I must note that Muhammad lived in the 7th century and created Islam in the 7th century. That means ISIS is actually made up of loonies who want to go back to the 7th century.

  3. Davy on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 9:54 pm 

    CNN nonsense pimping for some news worthy attention. This huge attack on Kirkuk was the work of a handful of militants. Please give me a break. I am sorry CNN you never recovered from the first Gulf war but that kind of article says why.

    Expect more of this asymmetrical warfare from ISIL because the glorious conventional battles and flag waiving afterwards are greatly diminished. There are Kurd boots on the ground and US eyes in the sky. There are few places to hide in the desert. Airpower with competent local forces have tipped the balance. I doubt much more than an uneasy balance will result. ISIL is probably here to stay just as the Taliban is. They have their home territory they will control just as a mafia continues to control turf even as the police patrol a city.

  4. bobinget on Sat, 31st Jan 2015 10:23 am 

    WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in an interview on Friday the United States might eventually need to send non-combat ground troops to Iraq to help turn back Islamic State forces.

    Hagel, who announced his resignation under pressure in November, told CNN all options must be considered in Iraq, including sending troops for non-combat roles such as gathering intelligence and locating Islamic State targets.

    “I think it may require a forward deployment of some of our troops …,” he said. “I would say we’re not there yet. Whether we get there or not, I don’t know.”

    Hagel’s comments echoed testimony by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Congress last fall when he said U.S. troops might have to take a larger role on the ground in Iraq.

    Such a deployment would be in addition to the 4,500 U.S. troops already committed to training and advising roles in Iraq.

  5. bobinget on Sat, 31st Jan 2015 3:06 pm 

    (Bloomberg) — Islamic State carried out its threat to execute a Japanese journalist after a bid for a prisoner exchange with Jordan failed, according to SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist social media.

    The Islamic militants released a video purportedly showing the beheading of hostage Kenji Goto, according to SITE, based in Bethesda, Maryland.
    The extremists had demanded that Jordan turn over Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber on death row, and also threatened to kill Moath al-Kasassbeh, a Jordanian pilot captured in Syria last month after his plane crashed on a bombing run against Islamic State.

    Poster’s note: Saudi Arabia beheads someone every
    third day. In fact the new king had his first beheading Friday.

    One question, How is KSA different from IS?

    answer: KSA is allied with USA and only beheads
    homosexuals on Fridays.

  6. bobinget on Sat, 31st Jan 2015 3:21 pm 

    I’m gonna say, IS ‘fifth column’ takes Saudi Arabia.

    Working within the system, financed by fabulous wealth potential, IS overthrows The House of Saud.

    Like Israel, KSA does not comment on the number
    or existence of nuclear weapons in its arsenals.

    If IS gains control Saudi Arabia’s massive weapons stash, Israel will quickly forget about Iran and nuke KSA in one of their ‘preventive attacks’.

    (Iran and KSA are mortal enemies)

    In the past I always ended these posts with a jocular “what could possibly go wrong?”.

    Today, we see what went wrong.

  7. bobinget on Sat, 31st Jan 2015 3:40 pm 

    Drones ‘take out’ a-Q operatives in Yemen
    One hour ago:
    Reuters) – A suspected U.S. drone strike on a car in Yemen killed three men believed to be al Qaeda militants on Saturday, local residents said, showing no let up in the hits despite the resignation of the president who backed the programme.

    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is considered one of the most powerful branches of the global militant group and claimed responsibility for deadly shootings in Paris on Jan. 7.

    For years, the United States has cooperated with Yemeni security forces to track and bomb AQAP members in the country’s rural badlands – a strategy that rights groups have criticised for causing repeated civilian deaths.

    But after Shi’ite Muslim rebels overran the capital Sanaa in September and took over President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s residence earlier this month, he and his cabinet resigned.

    Hadi was a staunch defender of the drone programme, and his exit has left the Islamist Houthi rebels, whose motto is “death to America”, the de facto rulers of the country.

    U.S. officials have told Reuters the Houthi takeover was depriving them of sufficient intelligence to locate AQAP targets and avoid killing civilians in the attacks.

    Saturday’s strike occurred in the remote desert town of al-Saeed in Shabwa province in southern Yemen. Residents told Reuters the dead men were al Qaeda militants.

    Another drone strike on Monday, the first since Hadi’s resignation, killed two suspected AQAP militants and a sixth grader.

    Nineteen U.S. drone strikes killed 124 militants and four civilians in Yemen in 2014, according to the New America Foundation, which maintains a database of drone operations.

    (Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Alison Williams)

    Posted note:
    WE are in an undeclared World (oil) War by any definition. Here’s Wikipedia’s, see if it fits.

    (A definition is a statement of the meaning of a term (a word, phrase, or other set of symbols).[a] The term to be defined is the definiendum. The term may have many different senses and multiple meanings. For each meaning, a definiens is a cluster of words that defines that term (and clarifies the speaker’s intention).

    The term “World War” was coined speculatively in the early 20th century, some years before the First World War broke out, probably as a literal translation of the German word Weltkrieg.[5] German writer August Wilhelm Otto Niemann had used the word in the title of his anti-British novel Der Weltkrieg: Deutsche Träume (“The World War: German Dreams”) as early as 1904, published in English as The coming conquest of England. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first known usage in the English language as being in April 1909, in the pages of the Westminster Gazette.

    It was recognized that the complex system of opposing alliances–the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire vs. the French Third Republic, the Russian Empire, and the British Empire was likely to lead to a worldwide conflict in the event of war breaking out. Due to this fact, a very minute conflict between two countries has the potential to set off a domino effect of alliances, causing mass war. The fact that the powers involved had large overseas empires virtually guaranteed that a war would be worldwide, as the colonies’ resources would be a crucial strategic factor. The same strategic considerations also ensured that the combatants would strike at each other’s colonies, thus spreading the fighting far more widely than in the pre-colonial era.

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