BAGHDAD, June 12 (UPI) -- As Islamist militants launched a lightening offensive targeting key Iraqi cities this week, the Kurdish Peshmerga (military) deployed to Kirkuk, where they announced Thursday the city was in full Kurdish control and safe from ISIS seizure.
The Iraqi army has been blamed for failing to protect Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from ISIS control. Council of Representatives speaker Osama al-Nujaifi lamented, "When the battle got tough in the city of Mosul, the troops dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts, making it an easy prey for the terrorists."
The Kurds maintain they seized control of Kirkuk in order to protect the city from ISIS.
According to Jabbar Yawar, a Peshmerga spokesman, Iraqi federal forces abandoned their bases and "No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk now."
By some reports, the Kurds were taking full advantage of their position of protecting the disputed city, and were taking possession of weapons, ammunition, and vehicles left behind by the retreating Iraqi forces.
One Kirkuk policeman remarked, "Honestly, we thought peshmerga forces would protect the base because this equipment belongs to the state and not to me or to [Prime Minister] Maliki. It should not have been looted like this."
Meanwhile, a video message from ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani was posted online Thursday, urging ISIS fighters to "Continue your march," and warning that battles "will rage in Baghdad and Karbala."