ISIS frees hostage for big ransom

Makhmur, September 2020- A military operation to uproot remnants of ISIS in Qarachukh Mountains in Kirkuk-Erbil-Mosul triangle. Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service

By KirkukNow

The extremist militants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS freed a civilian hostage on Saturday August 21st abducted two weeks ago southeast of Ninewa in return of a big cash ransom, sources anonymously told KirkukNow.

A big amount of money was paid to release one of other four abducted early August who is a local of one of the villages of Qaraj sub-district of Makhmur district, southeast of Ninewa, a source told KirkukNow on the condition of anonymity.

The source did not elaborate how much was paid for release of the kidnapped.

In the early hours of August 7th, ISIS militants disguised in military uniforms installed a security checkpoint near the village of Kandal of Makhmur and managed to abduct nine locals, four of them were freed by the security forces.

The next day, IS militants abducted a shepherd in a village of Makhmur raising the number of the abducted into six.

On August 12th, two of the hostages were released while they asked for 100,000 American dollars USD in return of freeing each of the four other hostages, local security officials and relatives told KirkukNow.

Ghazi Faisal, a volunteer Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) commander, told KirkukNow that IS militants hiding in Qarachukh mountains have abducted 24 locals in the last two months.

“They are asking for big amounts of money to free the hostages, a key source of income for the militants hiding in Qarachuck mountains as a safe haven,” Faisal said.

The Mountains of Qarachukh are located in the triangle of Erbil-Ninawa-Kirkuk, an area swept tens of times by military operation by the Iraqi and Kurdish forces yet they could not control.

IS militants are regrouping in the rural areas of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. They are targeting Iraqi forces and civilians in the suburbs of Diyla, Kirkuk Ninawa and Erbil, leaving tens of casualties and causing material damage to power plants, oil wells, houses, cattle, orchards and vehicles of the villagers.

The disputed territories extend from Khanaqin in the east on the border with Iran to the oil rich city of Kirkuk heading to the west of Mosul in Shingal, home to Ezidi ethno-religious minority, on the border with Syria.

Makhmur district located about 60 kilometers southwest of Erbil yet under control of Iraqi federal government, consists of three sub-districts and 40 villages yet only four villages are still inhabited, figures from local administrations show.

Since the fall of the Ba’th regime led by Saddam Hussein in 2003 until October 2017, Makhmur, part of the disputed terrritories between Baghdad and Erbil, was under the control of the KRG. In 2017, Iraqi security forces tookover the disputed territories following the claimed defeat of ISIS.

Most of Makhmur villages are located in areas between the KRG and the federal government, a security gap where ISIL fighters are regrouping.

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