Monday, November 14, 2016

IRAQ - Kirkuk Attack

"Why the Islamic State tried an audacious attack on Kirkuk" PBS NewsHour 11/10/2016


SUMMARY:  In October, the Islamic State launched an offensive on the city of Kirkuk, Iraq.  The attack was ultimately suppressed by Kurdish military forces, but it also diverted other anti-ISIS efforts and possibly escalated ethnic tensions in the culturally diverse city.  Special correspondent Christopher Livesay reports from Kirkuk.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  One of the challenges overseas that the new administration will inherit is the war in Iraq.

It's been almost a month since the operation to retake the ISIS-held city of Mosul began.  Early on, the extremists sought to divert Kurdish forces from the fight by attacking Kirkuk, the oil capital of Northern Iraq that's been held by the Kurds for more than two years.

Special correspondent Christopher Livesay recently visited the multi-ethnic city to see how it withstood the attack.

CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY, Special correspondent:  Kirkuk is over 100 miles southeast of the ISIS-held city of Mosul.

But, on October 21, no one could tell the difference.  It was just four days into the Iraqi-led offensive to recapture Mosul, but, as Kirkuk residents slept, a unit of ISIS fighters launched an attack on multiple locations throughout the city.  The assault would last more than two days.

When it was over, 116 people were dead, including police, military, and civilians, and more than 80 of the ISIS fighters were killed.  Among the dead and injured, guests at the neighboring Dar al Salam and Snobar hotels in the city center.

Mustafa Mohammed owns both.

This is the aftermath of an RPG right here?

MUSTAFA MOHAMMED, Hotel Owner:  That's right.  Yes.  And they went on the second floor and third floor and the fourth floor.

CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY:  You can still see the bullet holes that riddle the walls.  Out this window here, you can see what looks like a bulletproof vest spread open.  You have got a pot full of food, bottles of waters, ammunition belts and clothing strewn about.

Once inside the hotel, the militants had a commanding view of government areas.  The hotel is just across the street from the compound of Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk.

NAJMALDIN KARIM, Governor, Kirkuk Province:  We watched them on our monitor and the cameras from outside.  We could see them.  And when they tried to come out, a couple of them came to detonate their belt, and they were killed by our police.

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