In an attack on Sunday near Kirkuk in the north of the nation, where jihadists from the Islamic State group are still active, at least seven personnel of the federal police of Iraq were killed, according to police and government sources. A truck carrying the men was initially the target of a bomb attack. On condition of anonymity, a federal police official who linked the assault to IS told AFP that it was followed by “a frontal attack with small arms” close to the town of Chalal al-Matar. The attack’s perpetrators were not immediately identified by any organisation.
“An assailant has been killed and we are looking for the others,” the officer said, adding that two policemen were also wounded in the attack.
Seven police, including one officer, were killed in the incident, according to a Ministry of Interior spokesman in Baghdad.
IS took huge portions of Iraqi and Syrian territory starting in 2014, establishing a barbaric “caliphate,” which they ruled until they were routed by Iraqi forces supported by a US-led military coalition in late 2017.
Near the Iraqi border, IS lost their final stronghold in Syria in 2019.
Up until December of last year, the US-led anti-IS coalition retained a combat presence in Iraq, but some 2,500 American soldiers are still stationed there as trainers.
But there are still active IS relics across Iraq.
Security forces in Baghdad are still engaged in counterterrorism operations against the organisation, and news of the deaths of IS fighters in bombings and raids is frequently released.
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Despite the losses that have reduced IS to a shell of its former self, a UN study published earlier this year stated that the organisation can still depend on an underground network of between 6,000 and 10,000 militants to carry out assaults on both sides of the porous Iraqi-Syrian border.
(With inputs from agencies)