The Iraqi Defense Ministry has appointed a new security chief for the northern Kirkuk province, a ministry official said Tuesday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, the official said that Haidar al-Obeidi, a brigadier-general in Iraq’s elite anti-terrorism force, had replaced Major-General Maan al-Saadi as security chief in the oil-rich province.
“Al-Obeidi has now assumed responsibility for security in Kirkuk,” the official said, without providing a reason for al-Saadi’s abrupt removal.
The new security chief, the same source added, “has previous experience fighting the Daesh terrorist group in northern, western and eastern Iraq”.
As of Tuesday evening, however, the Iraqi government had yet to confirm the official’s assertions.
In October of 2017, Iraqi federal forces seized Kirkuk province from Kurdish Peshmerga forces loyal to northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Home to large Turkmen, Kurdish and Arab communities, Kirkuk is one of several parts of Iraq disputed between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG.
After the Iraqi army captured the northern city of Mosul in late 2017, officials in Baghdad declared that the Daesh terrorist group’s presence in the country had been all but destroyed.
Although attacks by Daesh have continued in certain parts of Iraq, including Kirkuk, they appear to have become much less frequent in recent months.
By Ali Gawwad in Baghdad