Top Iraq Kurd officer among six killed in IS attack

IS assault began at around midnight, sparking fighting with medium and heavy weapons


Afp January 30, 2015
In this file photo, a member of the Iraqi security forces patrols the Najaf governorate’s border with the mostly Islamic State (IS) group controlled western province of Anbar as new security measures have been taken to beef up security on the border of the Saudi desert on January 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

KIRKUK: The Islamic State militant group killed a senior Kurdish commander and five other fighters on Friday in a major attack in Iraq's Kirkuk province, an officer and a doctor said.

The IS assault on areas south and west of the northern city of Kirkuk began at around midnight, sparking fighting with medium and heavy weapons that was still ongoing Friday morning, a police brigadier general said.

Brigadier General Shirko Rauf and five other members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces were killed in clashes, while 46 more were wounded, the police officer and a doctor said.

The Kirkuk province security committee announced a curfew beginning at 10:00 am local time on Friday, saying it will be in effect until further notice.

IS spearheaded a sweeping offensive that has overrun much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland since June, presenting both an opportunity for territorial expansion and a threat to the country's three-province autonomous Kurdish region.

Several Iraqi divisions collapsed in the early days of the offensive, clearing the way for the Kurds to take control of a swathe of disputed northern territory that they have long wanted to incorporate into their region over Baghdad's objections.

But after driving south towards Baghdad, IS turned its attention to the Kurds, pushing them back towards their regional capital Arbil in a move that helped spark US strikes against the militants.

Backed by the strikes as well as international advisers and trainers, Kurdish forces have clawed back significant ground from IS.

The conflict is redrawing some of the de facto internal boundaries of Iraq in favour of broader Kurdish control in the north.

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