Iraqi Kurdish Forces Retake Oilfield From Militants

Iraqi Kurdish Forces Retake Oilfield From Militants
Iraqi Kurdish Forces Retake Oilfield From Militants

Iraqi Kurdish fighters and police retook an oil field in Kirkuk province Saturday that was seized by the Islamic State group overnight, and freed 24 workers who had been taken captive, officers said.

“Peshmerga forces and police cleared the Khabbaz oilfield and were able to enter it after surrounding it for hours,” Iraqi police said, adding that they also retook eight villages, AFP reported.

IS had moved into the oilfield Friday night and seized 24 workers, who were freed after they withdrew, peshmerga Major General Westa Rasul said.

A police colonel said their liberation was delayed because of fears that the bunker where they were held had been rigged with explosives.

During the fighting on Saturday, a sniper killed peshmerga Major General Hussein Mansur, Colonel Kawa Gharib said. A peshmerga major was also killed and four more fighters wounded when an explosives-rigged house blew up.

Mansur was the second senior Kurdish officer to die in two days, after Brigadier General Shirko Rauf was killed Friday during a major IS attack in Kirkuk province.

The US-led anti-IS coalition carried out 10 air strikes in Kirkuk province from Friday to Saturday, hitting IS units and vehicles and buildings used by IS militants.

The bulk of Iraq’s oil output comes from fields in the south, but the government is counting on production of 300,000 barrels per day from fields in Kirkuk in its 2015 budget, so any major loss of output would be damaging.

  IS Admits Defeat

IS acknowledged for the first time in a video that its fighters have been defeated in the Syrian town of Kobane and vowed to attack the town again. In the newly released IS video, the militant fighters acknowledged that they have been driven from the town.

“A while ago we retreated a bit from Ayn al-Islam because of the bombardment and the killing of some brothers,” said one masked fighter in Arabic, using the group’s preferred name for Kobane.

In the video released by the pro-IS Aamaq News Agency late Friday, two fighters said the airstrikes by the US-led coalition were the main reason why IS fighters were forced to withdraw from Kobane. One fighter vowed to defeat the main Kurdish militia in Syria, the People’s Protection Units known as the YPG.

Last week, Activists and Kurdish officials said the town was almost cleared of IS fighters, who once held nearly half of Kobane.