Iraq forces in fierce clashes with IS
SECURITY forces battled with Islamic State group gunmen who infiltrated Kirkuk in a brazen raid that rattled Iraq as it ramped up an offensive to retake Mosul.
A toxic cloud released by a fire started by IS militants at a sulphur plant south of Mosul killed at least two civilians and forced some US service members to wear masks.
A day after the shock attack on the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk, jihadist snipers and suspected suicide bombers were still at large, prompting Baghdad to send reinforcements.
Special counter-terrorism and intelligence units were hunting down some of the dozens of IS fighters who stormed public buildings early on October 21.
“We have 46 dead and 133 wounded, most of them members of the security services, as result of the clashes with Daesh [the IS],” an interior ministry brigadier general said, adding that 48 jihadist attackers had been killed so far and several others wounded.
The large-scale inghimasi attack, a term for jihadist operations in which gunmen, often wearing suicide vests, intend to sow chaos and fight to the death rather than achieve any military goal, caught Kirkuk off guard.
They used mosque loudspeakers to broadcast praise of their self-proclaimed “caliphate”, which has been shrinking steadily since last year and is looking closer than ever to collapse.
Clashes broke in the countryside
just east of Kirkuk between IS fighters fleeing the city and security forces, a senior security official said.
The attack, which is believed to have been carried out both by sleeper cells and militants who entered the city, was widely seen as an attempt by the IS to draw attention away from their setbacks in the battle for Mosul.
Mosul is the most populous city in the “caliphate” IS declared in June 2014, and the operation to recapture it is Iraq’s largest in years. –