Iraqi forces kill 44 Islamic State militants in Kirkuk

Iraqi forces kill 44 Islamic State militants in Kirkuk
Iraqi forces killed more than Islamic State militants in Kirkuk province in a security operation on Friday, and captured almost a dozen others.
2 min read
06 January, 2018
Iraqi forces launched an operation to clear IS militants in Kirkuk [File photo: Getty]
Iraqi forces killed more than 40 Islamic State militants and captured almost a dozen others in a major security operation in Kirkuk province.

Forces, including the Baghdad army, Popular Mobilisation Units and Iraqi police, began the sweep on Thursday after the militant group carried out several attacks on security personnel in southwestern Kirkuk.

"Joint security forces - including elements from the army, police and the Hashd al-Shaabi - killed 44 Daesh militants in Kirkuk’s Al-Riyadh, Al-Hawija and Al-Abbasi areas," Police Captain Hamed al-Obeidi told Anadolu Agency, using an Arabic acronym for the hardline Sunni group.

Eleven others, al-Obeidi said, had been captured by Iraqi forces.

"The militants were hiding out in different areas of southwestern Kirkuk," he said, adding a mop-up operation was still underway.

Hawija in Kirkuk province was the last urban IS stronghold to be retaken by Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led international coalition, before Baghdad declared the group's defeat in the country.

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Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi in December announced complete victory over Islamic State after a three-year war to expel the militant group that at its height endangered the country's very existence.

IS seized control of large parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities.

However experts warn that IS remains a threat, with the capacity as an insurgent group to carry out high-casualty bomb attacks using sleeper cells.

The Iraq Report is a weekly feature at The New Arab.

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