Battle of Kirkuk (2016)

The Battle of Kirkuk was a raid and a suicide attack on the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq by ISIL. The attack came less than a week after the beginning of the Battle of Mosul launched by Iraqi security forces and allies.

Battle of Kirkuk (2016)
Part of the Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017)

Location within Iraq
Date21–24 October 2016[1]
(3 days)

Kurdish government victory

  • ISIL captured more than 4 buildings
  • Security forces recaptured all buildings; most ISIL militants killed



 Islamic State
Commanders and leaders
Brig. Simko Rabati[2]
(Kirkuk security commander)
Idris Rafaat[2]
(Kirkuk security official)
Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir[2]
(suburban police chief)
Polad Talabani[3]
(Peshmerga Counterterrorism Group commander)
Lahur Talabani[3]
(head of Zanyari)[4]
Abu Islam (POW)[3]
(operations leader)[1]
Abu Qudama [5]
(Kirkuk raid commander)
Nizar Mahmud Abdul Ghani (POW)[6]
Units involved

 Iraqi Kurdistan

Ministry of Interior

Kirkuk civilian vigilantes[7]

Military of ISIL

Unknown 100 militants[1]
Casualties and losses
76 killed[3] 84 killed[3] and several captured[1]
21 civilians killed, 265+ security forces members and civilians wounded overall[3]

The battle

On 21 October 2016, dozens of ISIL militants and suicide bombers, supported by local sleeper cells,[1] entered Kirkuk and stormed a power station and police stations in the city, killing 18 members of security forces and power station workers, including 2–5[9] Iranian workers. The ISIL militants captured a mosque and an abandoned hotel and barricaded themselves inside.[10] Hours later, ISIL captured 2 more hotels and holed themselves in. Over 20 ISIL militants were killed,[9] as security forces recaptured most of the buildings.[2]

By the next day, ISIL forces still held parts of the Aruba District and a hotel,[7] though these were retaken later on. Government forces then began a mop-up operation to clear the city of remaining militants, with some of the latter blowing themselves as they were cornered.[11] Many local civilians had also taken up arms, hunting, capturing and killing ISIL fighters.[7]

On 23 October, several remaining ISIL attackers attempted to flee the city, with five being killed[12] and the ISIL operations leader captured by security forces.[1] On 24 October, the last ISIL fighters in Kirkuk were killed, including the raid commander Abu Qudama, a senior ISIL military figure of Hawija,[5] so that the governor of Kirkuk, Nadschmeddin Karim, could declare the city completely cleared of militants.[1] On the next day, security forces arrested Nizar Mahmud Abdul Ghani, a cousin of former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, for having participated in the Kirkuk raid.[6]

See also


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