Coalition strikes ISIS hideout in rural Kirkuk amid fresh attacks

The International Coalition against the so-called Islamic State on Sunday conducted an airstrike against a hideout of the terror group in rural parts of the disputed Kirkuk province, killing at least two suspected terrorists.

“On the order of the Joint Operations Command, the International Coalition Air Force carried out an airstrike on ISIS terrorist targets” in the Wadi al-Shai area, killing two suspected members of the terror group and destroying the hideout and a motorcycle, said a statement from the Iraqi military communication center.

Wadi al-Shai, a known hiding place for members of the Islamic State—as the Coalition has described it in the past—is located in the southeast of Daquq district of Kirkuk, a province disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government.

The valley area also has characteristically rugged, difficult to navigate terrain, which other militants in the past have used as their base of operations.

In recent days, Iraqi forces have conducted several operations, chiefly led by the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, against Islamic State members, with the military recently announcing the arrests and killings of multiple alleged leaders in the terrorist organization.

Attacks in Kirkuk

The campaign came amid renewed violence led by remnants of the Islamic State, especially in territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad. Kurdish officials have long warned a “security vacuum” in these vulnerable areas has allowed the terror group to plan future attacks and hampered the anti-terror fight.

Related Article: Coalition statistics show fight against ISIS continues

Last week, security sources reported that a civilian was killed in a mortar attack that targeted a funeral procession in the town of Bashir, about 27 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk city.

Bashir, inhabited by Shia Turkmen, fell to the Islamic State’s onslaught in June 2014, before the Peshmerga forces liberated it in 2016. The Kurdish forces withdrew from the area after Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias attacked Kirkuk in response to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.

Even after the Islamic State’s territorial collapse in late 2017, Bashir has remained a constant site of terrorist attacks.

ISIS Officials Arrested, Killed

The federal interior ministry on Sunday announced the arrest of an individual it claimed had “admitted” that he is a member of the Islamic State, “producing videos of terrorist operations against security forces and citizens and broadcasting them through the ISIS Amaq Agency.”

The official statement did not reveal the identity of the suspect but noted that he was from an “ISIS family” whose father and brother were killed by the terrorist organization due to “financial disputes.”

Two days earlier, a Counter-Terrorism Service team arrested an Islamic State “leader” in Salahuddin province, the top military spokesman, Major General Yahya Rasool said then, without clarifying further.

The interior ministry on Tuesday also announced the detention of another member of the terrorist organization in Kirkuk who “worked in several positions” in the terror group, the last of which was creating explosive devices.

The detainee “explicitly confessed” to being a member of the Islamic State, the ministry claimed.

In a separate operation in Salahuddin province on Friday, the Iraqi military said in a statement that a security forces team killed four “of the most important leaders of the ISIS terrorist gangs” in Samarra district, close to the disputed territories.

The statement did not elaborate further but indicated that two of the alleged terrorists were wearing “explosive vests.”

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