By Ali Jawad and Naza Mohamed
BAGHDAD (AA) – Iraq’s Defense Ministry on Saturday denied reports that the Daesh terrorist group was controlling nearly half of the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
“Iraqi security forces are in full control of the province,” the ministry said in a statement.
Local media earlier said, citing a Kurdish MP, that Daesh had overrun nearly half of the province and that hundreds of militants had been deployed in the area.
In October, Iraqi forces expelled the terrorist organization from the oil-rich province.
In earlier statements to Anadolu Agency, Kirkuk governor Rakan al-Jabouri admitted “security violations” on the outskirts of Kirkuk.
“[Daesh] sleeper cells or gangs were exploiting the province’s wide area to hide and carry out attacks and kidnappings,” he said.
Daesh has been driven out by Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition warplanes, from territory overran by the terrorist group in northern and western Iraq in 2014.