The attacks occurred in the afternoon when groups of IS militants attacked the areas in west of Baiji, some 200 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and managed to seize parts of the nearby town of Seiniyah after heavy clashes with the security forces and allied paramilitary units, known as Hashd Shaabi, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The extremist militants also carried out an attack on the security and Hashd Shaabi units in areas located in north of Baiji and captured the abandoned fertilizer plant and parts of Mak’houl mountain, the source said, adding that dozens of IS militants were killed and wounded in the ongoing battles.
Meanwhile, the security forces and Hashd Shaabi units repelled another attack by dozens of IS militants on the town of Mkeishifa, also known as Dijla, some 150 km north of Baghdad, after fierce clashes, leaving an army Brigadier General and six of his bodyguards killed while many of the extremist militants were also killed and wounded the source said.
Another attack occurred when dozens of IS militants attacked the oilfield of Ajil, about 40 km west of Tikrit, the capital of Salahudin province, sparking heavy clashes with the security forces and allied paramilitary units which were covered by the army helicopter gunships, the source said without giving further details about casualties as the battles continued at night.
The attacks came about a month after the Iraqi security forces and Hashd Shaabi units liberated large parts of the province, including Baiji, nearby Iraq’s largest oil refinery and Seiniyah, but the troops slowed their advance against IS in northern the province and almost stopped some 20 km south of the IS-held town of Shirqat, some 280 km north of Baghdad.
The battles in Salahudin province are part of the second phase of major offensive announced earlier by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, aimed at freeing towns seized by the IS group since June 2014 in the northern part of Salahudin province.
Salahudin, a predominantly Sunni province with its capital of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein. Enditem