Three civilians and six Iraqi security forces, including two members of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, have been killed in a fresh attack by Daesh terrorists north of Baghdad, officials said.
On Saturday, a vehicle ran into an explosive device planted by the Takfiri outfit around 200 kilometers (131 miles) north of the country’s capital, AFP reported, citing Iraqi officials.
A security team comprising police and PMU forces reached the area to address the situation, but were ambushed by Daesh gunmen.
Speaking to China’s Xinhua news agency, local police official Col. Mohammed al-Bazi put the death toll among the security forces at seven, and said two more policemen had also been wounded in the attack.
The gunmen fled the scene and disappeared into the nearby mountainous terrain, al-Bazi added.
There was no immediate word of casualties among the assailants, according to Mohammed Zidane, mayor of the town of Zouiya, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city of Tikrit.
Daesh emerged in Iraq in 2014 amid the chaos and ruin that had resulted from the United States’ invasion of the Arab country.
A bloated US-led coalition launched an extensive military operation in Iraq supposedly to target the terror outfit in the same year. However, the coalition proved surprisingly slow in confronting the terrorists.
Daesh soon swept up large swathes of Iraqi territory, prompting Baghdad to solicit military advisory assistance from neighboring ally, Iran. The joint anti-terror push — in which the PMU, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, played a crucial role — defeated Daesh in late 2017.
The group’s remnants, however, keep staging sporadic attacks throughout Iraq, mainly in the eastern Iraqi Diyala Province, Nineveh and al-Anbar Provinces in the country’s west, and Salahuddin Province that is wedged between them.
The Saturday attack was the second one by Daesh against Iraqi forces since the start of November when the terrorists hit an army post in Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding eight others.
Daesh’s strikes come as the United States has announced that it would withdraw another 500 troops from Iraq, reducing its deployment to 2,500 troops.
Observers warn that the terrorists, who are widely believed to be receiving support from the US, are staging the attacks simultaneously with Washington’s announcement to provide an excuse for American forces’ continued stay in Iraq.