Iraqi troops gain 'full-control' over Kirkuk, following surprise attack

Iraqi troops gain 'full-control' over Kirkuk, following surprise attack
Dozens of IS militants launched a surprise assault on Kirkuk this weekend, but Iraqi security forces managed to repel to attack and take control of the city.
2 min read
24 October, 2016
Northern Iraq has become a battleground to defeat IS [AFP]

A surprise Islamic State group offensive on the Iraqi city of Kirkuk has ended, the provincial governor has said, with the country's military defeating the militants.

Iraqi troops killed 74 IS fighters in a counter-offensive, with the government gaining full control of the northern city on Monday.

"The attack is over and life has returned to normal," Najmeddin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk province, told AFP.

"The security forces have killed more than 74 Daesh [IS] terrorists and detained several others, including their leader."

Karim said the initial confessions of the ringleader confirmed reports that around 100 fighters attacked Kirkuk early Friday, some of them sleeper cells that joined up with militants infiltrating the city.

Some attackers are also believed to have fled the city on Saturday, later clashing with security forces in rural areas east of Kirkuk.

The spectacular attack led to three days of clashes that left at least 46 people dead, mostly members of the security forces, and the Kurdish-controlled city under curfew.

The brazen raid on Kirkuk, which lies in an oil-rich area around 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Baghdad, appeared to be an attempt by IS to divert attention from Mosul.

Other surprise attacks by IS - such as in Anbar province - have also been launched in recent days, to relieve the militants holed up in Mosul.

Kurdish fighters and the Iraqi military have launched a huge offensive to retake Mosul from IS, which would win back the last major stronghold of the militants in Iraq to the government.