Iraqi forces on Thursday killed five Islamic State (IS) militants in an operation and an airstrike in the central province of Salahudin, a military statement and a police source said.
Acting on intelligence reports, the ninth brigade of the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, backed by the Iraq army’s helicopter gunships, carried out an operation near the town of al-Dour in southeast of the provincial capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, the Hashd Shaabi said in a statement.
The Hashd Shaabi force clashed with IS extremist militants and killed three of them, while a helicopter gunship pounded an IS hideout and killed two more inside, the statement added.
Mohammed al-Bazi from Salahudin’s provincial police said that Thursday’s operation came hours after the Hashd Shaabi’s ninth brigade came under heavy gunfire on Wednesday evening, while they were conducting a search operation near the town of al-Dour.
The heavy gunfire forced the Hashd Shaabi force to call off their evening operation and withdrew from the scene after two of the brigade’s members were wounded and another went missing, al-Bazi told Xinhua.
Early on Thursday, a joint force from Hashd Shaabi’s ninth brigade and the Iraqi army cordoned off the area and launched a search campaign looking for the missing Hashd Shaabi member, al-Bazi added.
The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent hit-and-run attacks against security forces and civilians.