BAGHDAD, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The Islamic State launched a surprise attack on the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk shortly after midnight Friday.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces "foiled a massive attack by ISIL on Kirkuk," Hemin Hawrami, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Foreign Relations Office and member of the KDP Leadership Council, tweeted Friday. "45 terrorist killed & left in the battlefield. 7 of our heroes martyred."
The dead included a senior Peshmerga operational commander, Brig. Sherko Shwani, commander of the 1st Peshmerga Brigade. In an interview given on the front line shortly before his death, Shwani told Kurdish news site Rudaw, "We will give our blood and not let terrorists set foot in Kirkuk."
At one point during the fighting Friday, Kurdish forces surrounded IS militants holed up in a former hotel in central Kirkuk used by police as headquarters. Security forces opened fire on the building before Peshmerga and Kurdish anti-terror units launched a raid, successfully retaking it.
Video footage from the Kurdish News Network shows Peshmerga forces firing on terrorists inside the building.
Although Peshmerga forces were able to repel most of the militants, IS was able to seize Maktab Khalid in the city's southwest.