An Iraqi Federal Police anti-terror unit conducted a raid along side Hashd al-Shaabi forces last week against Islamic State sleeper cells in several villages near the city of Kirkuk. During the raid, one ISIS collaborator (a shepherd) was killed and 5 ISIS militants were arrested. The operation was executed at night. According to reports, Hashd al-Shaabi fighters went into Tal Naqar, Saligo and Gilabat; infiltrating to their respective targets prior to Iraqi police forces. Spokesman for the Hashd al-Shaabi in Tuz Khurmatu, Ali Hashim confirmed the news, “The news is true. There is a reason for every action. These people appear to have been associated with ISIS. The investigation will finish by tomorrow and the truth behind arresting residents of this village will come to light.”
A secondary operation was launched over the weekend in villages of Amirli and Ghaza south of Tuz Khurmatu, 3 Hashd al-Shaabi soldiers were killed when an ISIS suicide bomber detonated an explosive concealed on his person. Kirkuk has been placed under Hashd al-Shaabi control by the Iraqi government, the shift in control came after the Iraqi supported forces pushed Kurdish Peshmerga out in October. Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s Prime Minister, declared the Islamic State defeated in December 2017 but sleeper cells continue to attack security forces throughout the regions of Kurdistan and Iraq with ambushes and targeted bombings. The Hashd al-Shaabi, Iraqi security forces, and the Kurdish Peshmerga have all shifted into not only ramping up security but are actively seeking out and destroying these sleeper cells at any given opportunity.
Hashd al-Shaabi and Iraqi security forces have suffered several attacks on checkpoints through out Kirkuk since their take over of the city in October. the Peshmerga who held it’s control prior to October faced a far lesser amount of terrorism related incidents. Despite the air of distrust between Peshmerga and Hashd al-Shaabi/Iraqi forces, Peshmerga leaders have expressed an eagerness to work with Iraq’s forces in an effort to bring stability to the region. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi is now advocating an incursion into Syria to combat the Islamic State threat abroad of his nation.
Featured Image Courtesy of Spc. Jillian Munyon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons