The Iraqi military has reportedly warned of an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) resurgence in northern Iraq, noting that the group has already attacked the Kurdish-majority Kirkuk region, home to lucrative oil fields.
In an interview with Bas News, Ahmed Askari, a member of the Kurdish-held Kirkuk Provincial Council, dismissed as false the Iraqi military’s allegation of an ISIS re-emergence in northern Iraq, a region primarily controlled by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
However, Kurdistan 24 reports:
Islamic State (IS) extremists on Saturday launched an attack on an oil field in Kirkuk Province, killing at least two police officers. A security source from Kirkuk said a group of IS militants attacked the Khabaza oil field in the disputed province, killing at least two police officers and wounding another one.The security source added that police reinforcements were sent to the site of the attack but did not reveal whether any of the oil wells were also targeted by the militant group.
Aided by Baghdad-sanctioned Shiite militias affiliated with Iran, the Iraqi military seized Kirkuk last October from the KRG’s Peshmerga forces.
“Since the military takeover of Kirkuk and other disputed territories by Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi militias, the security situation in the region has deteriorated,” notes Kurdistan 24.
Kurds remain the majority portion of the population of Kirkuk, also home to Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians.
U.S. and Iraqi officials cautioned that ISIS remains a threat soon after Baghdad declared victory over the terrorist group in December, acknowledging that pockets of the jihadists remained in the country.
As of the time that Baghdad announced ISIS’s demise, Breitbart News, citing various reports, noted that the group had lost “98 percent” of its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
In late January, NBC News learned from Hisham al-Hashimi, an adviser to Baghdad in its fight against ISIS, that “while the number of active fighters on the battlefield is probably in the range of 1,000 to 1,500, the actual number of ISIS-loyalists in Iraq and Syria is closer to 10,000.”
In its latest World Wide Threat Assessment, the U.S. intelligence community noted:
Over the next year, we expect that ISIS is likely to focus on regrouping in Iraq and Syria, enhancing its global presence, championing its cause, planning international attacks, and encouraging its members and sympathizers to attack in their home countries. ISIS’s claim of having a functioning caliphate that governs populations is all but thwarted.
ISIS core has started—and probably will maintain—a robust insurgency in Iraq and Syria as part of a long-term strategy to ultimately enable the reemergence of its so-called caliphate. This activity will challenge local CT [counterterrorism] efforts against the group and threaten US interests in the region. ISIS almost certainly will continue to give priority to transnational terrorist attacks.
ISIS also remains a threat outside of Iraq and Syria, particularly against the United States and regions where it has established official branches.
“Outside Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s goal of fostering interconnectivity and resiliency among its global branches and networks probably will result in local and, in some cases, regional attack plans,” noted the Worldwide Threat Assessment, adding:
“Sunni violent extremists—most notably ISIS and al-Qa‘ida—pose continuing terrorist threats to US interests and partners worldwide, while US-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) will remain the most prevalent Sunni violent extremist threat in the United States,” it added. “Iran and its strategic partner Lebanese Hizballah also pose a persistent threat to the United States and its partners worldwide.”
Both Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah and ISIS maintain a presence in the United States’ backyard — Latin America, recently warned the U.S. military.