Accounts of the fall of Kirkuk October 16, 2017

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

The following are accounts I will update and collect as I see them of those who witnessed or participated in the fall of Kirkuk to Iraqi forces on October 16, 2017.

“They sold us”

A.P recalls that a year before the collapse he was taking part in the Mosul offensive.  “One of the most significant military operations against ISIS in joint ventures with special forces Iraqi…Exactly one year after our allies with whom a year ago we were fighting shoulder-to-shoulder marked one of the most dirty pages of this war,”

Then for three days and three nights from October 14-17, 2017 he says that his unit was deployed north of Kirkuk. “Many departments have left their posts, without fighting other police units, instead have refused order, in total chaos and chaos Kirkuk fell yesterday afternoon, under the attack of tanks and light infantry.”

The debacle could not be stemmed. “We have tried to keep the lines to the north, but after repeated attempts we have had to exfiltrate, many of the dead peshmerga and several injured, with few ammunition, after falling within our base, with the last remaining group of my unit we have opted to regroup and Defending our installation to cut access to the main road is giving more time to civilians to leave Kirkuk. We were attacked with heavy weapons and rockets and artillery and surrounded, we held positions as far as possible, I and few others were able to organize a desperate evacuation of the few survivors inside the base before the forces forces took control of it.” He says that it is not completely over on October 17. “The Guerrillas are planning to resume areas of Kirkuk and rescue militants trapped between militias and Iraq army.”

A bad memory: “I’m fine. I’m still alive. This day will be marked forever from infamy, the first are the infamous political leaders concussi [sic abuse of power] and mafia and after all the generals who to save their positions have shorted the departments, They sold us!!!”

Abandoned to die

R.O says that he made it out alive on the October 17. “Regardless of reports, the peshmerga by far and large were not notified of the backdoor deal by some PUK.” He says that the deaths of Peshmerga “and any civilians lies solely on the jaish [sic] who made a deal and left their men to die and gave little notice of the plan. I am sure they are trying to deflect it, but those who made the deal are 110% responsible for any deaths.”

He describes chaos and no information given to units. “We had 0 [zero] notice of pulling back. And we barely made it out as rocket-fire came down. F*** the traitors.” He also says that fleeing north the checkpoints were abandoned. “Also every PUK checkpoint we drove past was abandoned. There wasn’t a single person manning the checkpoints and this was far past Dibz as well. Unsure of plan as of now and again not watching news but we will fight until told not to by the commanders.”

They managed to fight for some time

D.M, recalling the morning of October 16 says “as some of Peshmerga units of PUK were ordered to leave, the volunteers blocked the roads and tried to force them to stay.” Some local Peshmerga “refused the order and decided to pick up arms and stay on fronts. Later all volunteers picked up arms and provided passage for all the citizens to escape, they managed to fight for quite some time against American Abrams and Humvees driven by Shia militias of Iran.”

Kurdish politicians who had been in the streets the night before were gone by morning. “Well we didn’t see the governor and it seems that PUK decisions were made without telling two main PUK icons which were Kusrat Rasol (the only PUK Peshmerga commander who refused to run and his units fought till the end) and the other one who wasn’t told was the governor [Najmaldin Karim].”

As the day wore on Kurds began to leave the city. “I managed to take them [my family] outside…the road to Chamchamal [a town northeast of Kirkuk] is 50 minutes and we had been on way for 8 hours.” He says he does not intend to go back. “What I know is we’re not going back to an invaded city, we shall liberate it.” It was “betrayal.”

 

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