The watchmen of Kirkuk

When Daesh launched a surprise attack on their city, a group of neighbours decided to make sure they were never caught off guard again. A day on patrol with the neighbourhood watch in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Photo by: Shawn Carrie for TRT World
Photo by: Shawn Carrie for TRT World

The neighbourhood watch started with seven men but now there are six. Hemin Zangana was killed in a shoot-out when the Daesh attacked on October 21.

On October 21, at four in the morning, heavily armed gunmen arrived in Kirkuk, a city in Iraq, on the back of a truck. They had reportedly snuck into the city from Hawija, in Daesh’s territory south-west of Kirkuk. By dawn, Kirkuk’s security forces were on high alert. Rumours swirled that as many as 200 armed Daesh operatives were roaming the city.

Then, piercing the morning air, bullets and explosions hit the marketplace. The blast in the bazaar was so powerful it left molten shards of metal strewn on the streets. For hours, a dramatic battle was underway between an elite Kurdish counterterrorism squad and Daesh fighters holed up in an under-construction hotel.

As Sherko Zangana, an off-duty reserve soldier in the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga army, saw this unfold on live television, he decided he would protect what was his – his family and his city. He went out and stood on his stoop, weapon in hand. Soon a few others followed suit, giving birth to the informally organised watchmen of Kirkuk. 

TRT World spends a day on patrol with the neighbourhood watch in Kirkuk.

Read our story on Medium.

Author: Shawn Carrie