Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) Pro-Iraqi government paramilitary forces killed 23 Islamic State members on Friday during an offensive in Samarra, Salahuddin, as the troops continue securing areas recaptured from the extremist group in the province.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) said they killed seven IS fighters and wounded 16 others on the dawn of Friday in an offensive at Jalam Samarra region.
Areas between Salahuddin and neighboring provinces have seen an increase in attacks by IS on security and PMU deployments since the government launched a major campaign in October to retake Mosul, Islamic State’s biggest fastness in Iraq. Al-Hashd has actively engaged with government forces in securing recaptured areas and searching for dormant IS cells in Salahuddin and other provinces.
Observers believe attacks by Islamic State fighters on provinces outside Mosul aim at distracting security focus on the city and to offset losses the group has been sustaining there.
Generals from the Iraqi forces and from the allied U.S.-led international alliance have stressed that Islamic State began to weaken, with many several senior leaders killed or escaped, the group isolated inside Mosul and deprived of its supply routes from Syria.
It is expected that the Iraqi government, once done with the campaign in Mosul, will move on towards smaller IS pockets in Kirkuk, Anbar and Salahuddin.