The Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga are claiming significant territorial gains in the area around Daquq today, saying the offensive left them with roughly 250 square kilometers worth of territory, including 10 villages in the Kirkuk Province.
The area around Daquq is one of several front-lines in the Kurdish battle against ISIS in northern Iraq, and villages in this area have regularly change hands over the past year. Defending the relatively remote villages seems to be a struggle for both sides.
That doesn’t mean the territory is totally without value, however. The Peshmerga views this area as particularly important because it is adjacent to the main highway leading south from Kirkuk to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and as such is crucial to their hold on the oft-disputed city.
Though Kirkuk was not initially part of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG’s) territory, they quickly seized it when fighting between the central government and ISIS broke out, and KRG officials have indicated they have every intention of keeping the oil-rich city.
It is unclear how much fighting was actually involved in this latest exchange of territory. Kurdish officials reported five Peshmerga fighters killed, but they apparently were hit by IEDs, not in combat. ISIS tends to use front-line villages for hit and run attacks, but only shores up the defenses seriously in areas they intend to keep in the long-run.