Top officer killed as Iraq Kurds repel major IS attack

Top officer killed as Iraq Kurds repel major IS attack
# 30 January 2015 21:16 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Iraqi Kurdish forces repelled a major attack by the Islamic State group in Kirkuk province that killed a top officer Friday, while violence elsewhere left at least 19 dead, APA reports quoting AFP.

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 in which the militants were ultimately held off.

Kirkuk Governor Najm al-Din Karim said Kurdish forces, supported by US-led air strikes, "foiled the Daesh (IS) attacks" which were "carried out toward oil and gas facilities and stations... from three directions leading to the city of Kirkuk."

Damage to Kirkuk oil facilities would pose a serious problem for Iraq, which is counting on crude exports of 300,000 barrels per day from the oil-rich province in its 2015 budget.

Brigadier General Shirko Rauf and five other members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces were killed and 46 more were wounded in the fighting, a police brigadier general and a doctor said, but the final casualty figure for Kurdish troops was unclear.

Officials put IS casualties at dozens of dead, but that could not be independently confirmed.

The Kirkuk province security committee announced a curfew beginning at 10:00 am (0700 GMT) Friday, but it was lifted later in the day, police said.

Dozens of Kirkuk residents fired weapons in the air to celebrate the victory over IS, witnesses said.

Militants struck inside the city itself Friday, detonating a car bomb near security headquarters and wounding five people, a police colonel and the doctor said.