Security forces defend their headquarters against attacks by Islamic State during sand storm in Ramadi. (AP Photo)
Kirkuk (Iraqinews.com) – Sixteen Islamic State suicide bombers were killed Tuesday in a face-off with security forces in Kirkuk province, a security source was quoted as saying.
“Fierce clashes erupted between Islamic State terrorists and security forces, backed by personnel of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) and villagers, near a tunnel used by the militant group at al-Zarariyeh village in Hawija, 55 km south west of Kirkuk,” the source told Dijlah TV channel.
“The clashes left 16 IS militants killed,” the source said, adding that three members of al-Hashd al-Shaabi were wounded after an IS suicide bomber blew himself up in the conformation that lasted for four hours.
According to the source, the injured were taken to hospital for treatment. “One of the injured was admitted to hospital, suffering from severe injuries,” he said.
In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi troops recaptured Hawija, a main town held by Islamic State in the country.
The town had fallen to IS in June 2014, when the militant group seized control of much of northern and western Iraq and proclaimed the creation of a self-styled “caliphate”.
There, Islamic State’s reign forced thousands to flee to refugee camps, while hundreds had been executed by the group for attempting to escape the area or contacting security forces.
The offensive on Hawija began on 21 September and has involved army, police and special forces units, as well as the Shia-led paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces.
Despite the victory over IS there in the city, observers say IS is believed to constitute a security threat even after the group’s defeat at its main havens across Iraqi provinces.