Clashes between Iraqi forces and IS leave at least 7 dead


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Tarmiyah (Iraq) (AFP)

Iraqi security forces clashed with the Islamic State group north of Baghdad on Saturday, leaving at least five jihadists and two security personnel dead.

A joint force of army troops and state-sponsored tribal fighters attacked an IS hideout in the verdant plains of Tarmiyah, according to an army statement.

“We learned that IS was holding a meeting there to plan attacks on the capital Baghdad,” said Ahmad Salim, chief of the Baghdad operations command, near the site of the fighting.

The ensuing clashes killed five IS fighters and two pro-government tribal forces, the army statement said.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi met with key military commanders as troops scoured fields and farmland around Tarmiyah.

The new raid comes nearly a month to the day after suicide bombers killed more than 30 people in crowded Tayaran Square, Baghdad’s bloodiest attack in three years.

Security sources said the two jihadists had infiltrated the city from the north.

Days later, nearly a dozen fighters from Hashed al-Shaabi in Iraq, a powerful network of state-sponsored groups, were killed in an IS ambush, also north of the capital.

Since then, security forces have stepped up efforts to drive out IS sleeper cells there, after Kadhemi announced the murder of Abu Yasser al-Issawi, identified as the top ISIS figure in Iraq, on the 28th. January.

In early February, security forces killed another IS leader who they said helped transport the two bombers to Baghdad.

Iraq declared ISIS territorially defeated in late 2017 after a three-year fight aided by airstrikes from the US-led coalition and military advisers.

IS attacks in urban areas have declined significantly since then, but Iraqi troops have continued to fight sleeper cells in the country’s mountainous and desert areas.


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