Iraqi government forces repelled an attack by extremist Islamic State (IS) group militants on Wednesday against military posts in Iraq’s Salahudin province, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
The incident occurred after midnight when dozens of IS militants attacked the posts of the government-backed Hashd Shaabi paramilitary units in the rugged area by the mountain of Himreen, sparking heavy clashes, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Reinforcement troops from the Iraqi army and police backed by army helicopters arrived early in the morning to the scene, forcing IS attackers to withdraw back into their hideouts in the area, said the source.
The battles resulted in the death of at least two paramilitaries and five others were wounded, along with the destruction of the homes of nine shepherds, the source added.
Ahmed al-Jubouri, Salahudin province governor, warned on Monday in a statement of a potential security setback with increased attacks by IS militants against civilians and provincial security forces, using the Mteibijah rugged area in the east of the province as a launching pad.
“The towns of Dour, Alam and Samarra witnessed almost daily attacks by Daesh, killing and wounding numerous civilians and security members, in addition to burning homes and destroying power transmission lines,” Jubouri said.
Salahudin ground forces are incapable of repelling IS attacks given their large numbers in the vast rugged area of the eastern part of the province, Jubouri said.
He said that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, must take “swift and decisive action” to reclaim control of the province’s eastern areas.
In Oct. 2016, security forces and allied Hashd Shaabi paramilitary units undertook an operation to regain the IS’s main bastion in Mteibijah, 100 km southeast of Salahudin’s provincial capital of Tikrit.
The Mteibijah operation targeted reclaiming control of the entire area, where hundreds of IS militants hid, in order to prevent their attacks against civilian and military targets in the neighboring provinces of Salahudin and Diyala.
However, security forces only regained control of parts of the rugged sprawling areas in the predominately Sunni Arab province of Salahudin.
IS attacks against the province came as Iraqi security forces, backed by an anti-IS international coalition, carried out a major offensive to drive IS militants out of their last major stronghold in and around Mosul, 400 km north of Bagdad. Enditem