SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United States said on Friday it was “deeply concerned” by the continued escalation of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks in Iraq, following an ISIS attack that killed 10 members of the Peshmerga forces.
ISIS militants attacked Khidr Jija village in the foothills of Qarachogh mountain near Makhmour on Thursday night, killing three civilians.
Ten other members of the Peshmerga forces were killed after they launched an operation to clear ISIS of the area following the attack.
The attack took place in the Makhmour region, a hotbed for ISIS activity that sees regular attacks against Kurdish forces, Iraqi forces and often civilians.
Makhmour is a mountainous area about 70 km (45 miles) southeast of Mosul and 60 km (40 miles) southwest of Erbil.
“We offer out condolences to the families of those killed and injured in these attacks,” spokesman of U.S. State Department Ned Price said in a statement.
“The United States reaffirms our commitment to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces, including the Peshmerga, as they continue the fight against ISIS to ensure its enduring defeat,” he added.
ISIS militants have increased attacks against the Peshmerga forces in the disputed territories.
They carried out 5 attacks against the Peshmerga forces last week.
Eight members of the Peshmerga forces were killed in the attacks in Kifri and Kulajo in Garmian administration, according to authorities.
Kurdish officials and analysts have long blamed a lack of coordination along a stretch of territory claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil for ISIS’ continued ability to wage deadly attacks.
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani said the attacks that ISIS carries out daily “must be responded forcefully and briskly with comprehensive defense and military strategy” in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to end the attacks in the country.
“It is impressive to reassess the military conditions and capabilities, to take immediate actions to optimize coordination between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces with the participation and support from the international coalition in order to fill the security and military vacuum in areas located between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces,” he said in a statement.
Separately, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said the militant group “remains a serious threat” to residents of the disputed territories.
“We must immediately strengthen security coordination with the federal govt to stop the group’s resurgence in these areas,” he said in a twee.
Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, meanwhile, said operations and coordination between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi military should be increased in the areas where there are ISIS movements.
Earlier this month, the militants carried out two attacks against the Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas.
On October 31, two members of the Peshmerga forces were killed in another ISIS attack near Prde, south of Erbil.
The Peshmerga ministry said the militants continued to use a security gap between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to attack the Peshmerga.
Islamic State controlled roughly a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, including the remote Makhmour region but also major cities including Mosul.
Iraqi forces, Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shia militias defeated the militant group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.