U.S. and allies urged to intensify aerial bombing to protect oil center from falling to Islamic State

Azzaman, January 16, 2015

The United States and its allies should intensify their bombing of Islamic State militants who have moved to the outskirts of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, according to Kirkuk’s governor Najmudeen Kareem.

The jihadist group is concentrating its attacks on towns and villages in the vicinity of Kirkuk, which is a major oil center in Iraq. There have been reports of the militants achieving gains on the ground in their latest bid to occupy the city’s oil installations.

The plea for the U.S. and allies to come to Kirkuk’s defense was made in a meeting Kareem held with U.S. ambassador to Iraq Stewart Jones.

“The meeting (with Jones) discussed the role of the international alliance in destroying Da’esh terrorists and supporting the forces of peshmerga via aerial bombing to protect the city of Kirkuk and its vital installations,” a statement from governor Kareem’s office said.

Da’esh is the Arabic appellation for the Islamic State, whose militants control large swathes of territory in the northern and western parts of Iraq. Peshmerga is the local name for Kurdish militias.

The statement said Kareem urged Jones to tell his government that “it is essential for the aerial operations to go on without interruption and with much more concentration” in targeting Islamic State militants.

Meanwhile Kareem held several meetings with senior Iraqi officials besides Jones in which he demanded more assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled to Kirkuk as the jihadists force them to evacuate the villages and towns they occupy, the statement added.