Iraqi forces complete takeover of Kirkuk province after clashing with Kurds

Families fleeing violence in the northern Kirkuk province cross a Kurdish checkpoint in Altun Kupri, 40 kilometers south of Irbil. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2017
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Iraqi forces complete takeover of Kirkuk province after clashing with Kurds

BAGHDAD/KIRKUK, Iraq: Iraqi forces took control on Friday of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk still in the hands of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters following a three-hour battle, security sources said.
The district of Altun Kupri, or Perde in Kurdish, lies on the road between the city of Kirkuk — which fell to Iraqi forces on Monday — and Irbil, capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq that voted in a referendum last month to secede from Iraq against Baghdad’s wishes.
A force made up of US-trained Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service units, Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization and Federal Police began their advance on Altun Kupri at 730am, said an Iraqi military spokesman.
“Details will be communicated later,” the spokesman said in a short posting on social media.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew from the town of Altun Kupri, located on the Zab river, after battling the advancing Iraqi troops with machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades, security sources said.
It was not immediately clear whether there had been any casualties in the fighting.
The Iraqi forces have advanced into Kirkuk province largely unopposed as most Peshmerga forces withdrew without a fight.
The fighting at Altun Kupri marked only the second instance of significant violent resistance by the Kurds in Kirkuk province since Monday.
Altun Kopri marks the administrative limit between Kirkuk and Irbil. It belongs administratively to the Kirkuk province.
Iraqi forces are seeking to reestablish Baghdad’s authority over territory captured by the Kurdish Peshmerga outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region in the course of the war on Daesh militants.
The Peshmerga had moved into Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled the region in the face of Islamic State’s advance in 2014. The Kurdish move prevented Kirkuk’s oilfields from falling into the hands of the militants.


Iraq court condemns to death ‘deputy of Daesh leader’

Updated 19 September 2018
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Iraq court condemns to death ‘deputy of Daesh leader’

  • An Iraqi courtsentenced to death by hanging one of the most prominent leaders of Daesh
  • Al-Ithawi was extradited from Turkey earlier this year having fled Syria as the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” crumbled

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court on Wednesday sentenced a prominent militant described as a deputy of Daesh group leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to death on terrorism charges.
“The Karkh criminal court in Baghdad sentenced to death by hanging one of the most prominent leaders of Daesh, who served as a deputy of Baghdadi,” judicial spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar said.
Ismail Alwan Salman Al-Ithawi was extradited from Turkey earlier this year having fled Syria as the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” crumbled.
He was tracked and detained through cooperation between Turkish, Iraqi and US intelligence agencies, a senior Iraqi official told AFP in February.
A native of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, Ithawi was accused of holding several positions including Daesh “minister” in charge of religious edicts.
Iraq declared “victory” over Daesh In December after a three-year war against the extremists who once controlled nearly one third of the country as well as swathes of neighboring Syria.
Baghdadi has been pronounced dead on several occasions, but an Iraqi intelligence official said in May that he remained alive in Syrian territory by the Iraqi border.
The Daesh chief called on Muslims to wage “jihad” in a purported new audio recording released last month.