Kirkuk, IRAQ – Pro-government troops of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) announced on Tuesday killing seven Islamic State (ISIS) militants in a military operation southwest of the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
In a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Alghad Press, the PMFs said that “four of those killed in the military operation were clad in explosive belts as they sought to blow themselves up to block the troops’ advancement towards al-Rebza village in southwestern Kirkuk.”
“The troops killed three other ISIS militants in the operation as well,” according to the statement, adding that the military operation will go on as scheduled to eliminate all ISIS cells across Kirkuk.
Earlier today Right Wing Tribune reported that Islamic State (ISIS) militants destroyed a mosque on a road between Salahuddin and Kirkuk provinces, a move that is seen by commentators as a new escalation against worship places in Iraq, a security source was quoted as saying.
Speaking to Alsumaria News on Tuesday, the source said, “Armed men believed to be members of the Islamic State group have sneaked into al-Mustafa mosque in al Alam district in Tikrit and detonated bombs.”
“The explosions caused major damage to the mosque but no human casualties were reported,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, pointed out.
The source noted that a security force rushed to the blast site and opened a probe into the attack, Iraqi News reported.
ISIS has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it.
The Iraqi capital has seen almost daily bombings and armed attacks against security members, paramilitary troops and civilians since the Iraqi government launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Islamic State-occupied areas in 2016.
Though most of the daily bombings go without a claim of responsibility, Islamic State has declared it had been behind many.
Although Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, isolated militant cells still pose a security threat in some parts of the country and have already carried out several attacks targeting security forces and citizens.
In recent weeks, suspected Islamic State insurgents have carried out several attacks targeting security forces in the areas north-west of Kirkuk.
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