Iraqi forces on Monday reported casualties on both sides during clashes with remnants of the so-called Islamic State in rural areas to the south of the disputed Kirkuk province. This is yet another incident involving operatives of the terrorist organization, which appears to have grown more active over the past two weeks.
An Iraqi soldier was killed, and two others were wounded during the exchanges, according to a statement from the Iraqi military communications center, the Security Media Cell (SMC). It noted that the security forces, backed by Iraqi air forces support, had killed “a number of” Islamic State members.
The confrontation occurred in the al-Shai Valley, a patch of territory that is characterized by rough terrain and—despite repeated combing operations Iraqi forces have conducted—remains a hideout for remnants of the terrorist organization, from where they plan future attacks on nearby areas.
The SMC said that the security forces engaged the Islamic State militants after detecting a hiding place for “terrorists.” It did not provide further details but indicated that the operation was “still ongoing” at the time of the statement’s release and would
Islamic State sleeper cells have continued to carry out insurgency-style attacks even over two years after Baghdad declared a victory over the group after it lost all its territorial holdings in the country. The activities of the terrorist organization are sporadic, but witness upticks in periodically.
Over the past few months, the new coronavirus outbreak has presented a new challenge to the Iraqi government, and, as the lack of security coordination with the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga in disputed territories continues, Islamic State remnants appear to be exploiting diverted attention towards the disease.
On Sunday alone, Iraqi forces had three engagements with sleeper cells in areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad. Early reports indicated that one police officer was killed, while the security forces captured one militant.