Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still control eight neighborhoods of Mosul, Iraq’s interior ministry said, as local officials demanded help from Kurdish Peshmarga forces to oust the al-Qaeda splinter group.
Meanwhile, thousands seeking safety from the worsening security situation in Nineveh province — where Mosul is the capital — fled to the Kurdistan Region.
“ISIS militants attempted to control Mosul International Hotel, but Iraqi security forces repelled the attack and killed 20 militants, including five snipers, and destroyed three vehicles,” said Brigadier General Saad Ma’an, spokesman of the Iraqi interior ministry.
Esmat Rajab, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) bureau in Mosul, confirmed the account of the interior ministry spokesman. “As far as we know, they (ISIS) attempted to control Mosul International Hotel, but their attempt was defeated,” he said.
According to military and security sources in the province, 41 Iraqi soldiers and 27 ISIS members have been killed. More than 60 policemen are said to be among the injured.
Ma’an said that schools and universities had been closed down in Mosul due to potential hostage taking by ISIS. “Most of the dormitories have been evacuated because of the possibility of attack, and certainly these incidents have paralyzed the education process in the city,” he said.
Thousands of resident have fled the city, seeking safety in eastern Mosul, which is partially under the control of Kurdish Peshmarga forces.
A Rudaw correspondent said that nearly 4,000 people from Mosul have fled to the Kurdistan Region. The refugees say that ISIS fighters were using homes in Mosul as shields to attack the army.
Kurdish Peshmarga forces have not participated in the clashes against ISIS until now, but they are on the high alert on the Kurdistan Region’s borders, officials said.
Jabar Yawar, chief of staff in the Peshmarga ministry, denied that the KRG had been asked to confront ISIS forces outside the Kurdistan Region.
“Such a request should come from the federal government to the KRG,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, the federal government has not agreed until now, and has not coordinated and assisted the Peshmarga forces in those areas to control the security situation there,” he said.
Yawar insisted that Peshmarga forces could have provided better security for the people. “If Peshmarga forces were there, all these explosions and killings of innocent citizens would not have happened,” he said.
He added that the non-existence of Peshmarga forces had provided a space for the terrorists to operate freely in those regions.
In the meantime, some local officials in Mosul pleaded for the KRG to deploy its forces to protect the Kurdish population of the city.
“We ask Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, to dispatch Peshmarga and security forces to protect the Kurds of Mosul, in particular the Shabk Kurds, who have always been a target of the extremist militants,” said Ghazwan Dawdi, a member of Nineveh’s provincial council.
ISIS has launched coordinated attacks in the Sunni provinces over the past several days. It briefly controlled large parts of the city of Samarra in Salahaddin province, while taking students and professors hostage a Ramadi University.
In the meantime, ISIS suicide bombers claimed responsibility for an attack on the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the town of Jalaula in Diyala province, killing at least 20 and wounding 63 others.