In the village of Kifri, just southeast of Erbil, members of the Islamic State attempted to kidnap a local shepherd and his flock of sheep on Friday afternoon. Local Kurdish security forces responded and a firefight ensued. The attack happened around 1500 and was committed by 8 military age males. Attacks and kidnappings like this are becoming increasingly frequent in Iraqi Kurdistan as the war shifts from conventional to asymmetric for the Peshmerga.
Peshmerga commander for the region, Jamal Barani, later stated, “Heavy fighting lasted 15 minutes between the ISIS militants and the Peshmerga. The militants killed the shepherd and later ran away leaving the sheep behind. A planted bomb was triggered by one of our vehicles, wounding three Peshmerga. We chased them, firing on them with light and heavy weapons. They ran towards the Gharra mountains [to the south].”
The wounded Peshmerga only suffered minor cuts and bruises during the attack and have since been released from medical care. The Islamic State has maintained a small guerrilla like presence in the Hamrin mountains near Kifri. Kurdish and Iraqi security forces are stretched thin to not only secure key infrastructure and major checkpoints along the main roads but also provide quick reaction units for incidents such as this. This has left little manpower to hunt down and eliminate the remaining sleep cells or splinter factions left after the fall of the Islamic State’s so called caliphate.
There have been several other unverified reports of ISIS militants attempting to kidnap local shepherds in the area as well. They are most likely being targeted for the benefits of the livestock for food but also possibly ransom. A flock of sheep is an incredibly valuable commodity for a Kurdish family and would have been a their primary source of income.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia