IS raid in Iraq kills two PMF fighters prompting retaliatory airstrikes

IS raid in Iraq kills two PMF fighters prompting retaliatory airstrikes
The raid against a PMF military post in Iraq comes after Islamic States twin bomb attack in Iran that killed 91 people.
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Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces consists of many groups, with some of the most powerful members being backed by Iran [Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]

Two fighters from Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have been killed in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, the pro-Iranian PMF and an Iraqi security source said Sunday.

The two fighters "succumbed after having been wounded while they were confronting an attack" by jihadists late Saturday in Salaheddin province north of Baghdad, the PMF said in a statement carried by Iraqi state media.

A security source, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, confirmed the death toll and said that IS attacked a PMF "[military] post on Saturday night" in the area of Al-Zarka in the province's north.

The PMF is a coalition of mainly pro-Iranian former paramilitary units that have been integrated into the regular armed forces.

Iraqi troops have been heavily involved in the fight against IS, who is also opposed by Tehran.

IS claimed the attack in a statement published on the group's Telegram channels, saying two PMF members had been killed and three others wounded.

Hours after the attack, the Iraqi military bombarded IS "hideouts" in Diyala province near Salaheddin, killing five of the group's fighters, according to the government's media unit for security affairs.

IS jihadists seized swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" which they ruled with brutality before their defeat in late 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition.

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Jihadist cells, however, still stage sporadic attacks on the army and police, especially in rural and remote areas.

A United Nations report published in July said IS has "between 5,000 and 7,000 members across Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, most of whom are fighters".