Iraqi PM to announce defence shakeup amid escalating anti-IS operations

Iraqi PM to announce defence shakeup amid escalating anti-IS operations
The reported changes come after an overnight attack on Sunday claimed the lives of 13 Iraqi policemen in the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk - one of the extremist group's deadliest attacks this year.
2 min read
07 September, 2021
On Tuesday, Iraq's federal police announced the killing of four IS militants in Kirkuk [Getty - file photo]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi is expected to announce a shakeup of defence posts as security forces escalate their operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq’s restive Kirkuk province, following one of the deadliest attacks claimed by the group this year.

On Sunday, IS militants attacked a security checkpoint south of Kirkuk, killing 13 Iraqi policemen. The same day, three Iraqi soldiers were killed and one was wounded after gunmen targeted an army checkpoint southeast of Mosul.

Baghdad officials who spoke to The New Arab’s Arabic-language edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said that the Iraqi government will shake up a number of defence posts, while other officials will be subject to "investigation".

An interior ministry official said the changes to be announced by Al-Kadhimi were likely to see the chief of the 5th Division of Iraq's federal police, Haidar Al-Mutawiri, relieved of his duties.

Al-Mutawiri has reportedly been accused of failure in managing and deploying security units to regions of Kirkuk.

An unnamed high-ranking army general was expected to lead security operations at Kirkuk's headquarters, the official said.

Investigative efforts are focused on the delayed response to calls for support by the policemen who died in Sunday's attack in Kirkuk, the official added.

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The attackers clashed with the police, stationed at a village in the town of Rashad, for two hours. Roadside bombs were used to block the passage of police reinforcement, resulting in further casualties.

A local Kirkuk official told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that IS militants were holed up in Kirkuk's mountains and nearby rugged terrain, adding that "crucial operations" aimed at rooting them out were likely in the coming days.

On Tuesday, Iraq's federal police announced the killing of four IS militants in Kirkuk.

Troops ambushed militants in a village near the northwest Kirkuk town of Altun Kopri overnight, before engaging them in a skirmish that was supported by helicopter strikes, a security source said.

IS captured swathes of Iraq in 2014 before being beaten back by a campaign supported by a US-led military coalition.

Baghdad declared the group defeated in 2017, but sleeper cells are still active in a low-scale insurgency against Iraq's security forces, particularly in the country's north.

 
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