Baghdad, [Iraq]: Three days after the United States-led coalition pounded their locations in Salahuddin province, Islamic State (IS) militants attacked three military bases on Wednesday and eliminated ten soldiers.
According to Xinhua News, six suicide bombers wearing explosive vests carried out the pre-dawn attack on military bases in Baiji town, about 200 km from Baghdad. It was also reported that heavy clashes had taken place between the two sides for several hours.
At least nine policemen and four suicide bombers were killed in the clashes, which continued till afternoon as the police were still fighting two suicide bombers in the town, sources said.
The Islamic militants had seized Baiji in June 2014, but in late 2015, Iraqi security forces liberated the town successfully. Baiji has been almost totally destroyed by previous battles despite more than a year-and-a-half of being freed of IS militants.
Three days ago, on Sunday, the Islamic State received major jolt when many of their militants were killed after warplanes from the United States-led coalition pounded their locations in Salahuddin province.
Coalition warplanes pounded gatherings of IS militants in a chicken pen in Zarka region, 75 Km east of Salahuddin, said Abdullah Bur, area commander for Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Tuz Khurmatu, according to local media reports.
Based on intelligence information the coalition fighter jets attacked the militants who were grouping at the area in preparation for an attack on Peshmerga forces, but the attack was foiled, said Bur. Peshmerga forces have been actively contributing to Iraq’s war against Islamic State militants since the group emerged in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled Islamic “Caliphate”.
Iraqi forces have said to be got the complete control of the highway stretching from Baghdad to Baiji after the liberation of the town. Coalition forces are in a position to use Baiji as a launching pad for a further advance toward the IS stronghold in Mosul.
IS militants attacked the posts of paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units in Zuwiyah area, about 30 km north of Baiji, but the forces fought back and prevented the group from taking the bases, the source said.
Initial reports said at least one Hashd Shaabi member was killed and three wounded.
The third attack occurred early in the morning on a Kurdish forces military base near Tuz-Khurmato town that left two Peshmerga fighters wounded and an IS militant dead and another wounded, the source said.
In Salahudin province, the IS is still in control of Makhoul mountain range and the villages between the range and the Tigris River.
The eastern bank of the Shirqat twon, about 280 km from here, and its surrounding villages and area that stretch to the IS-held town of Hawijah in the western part of the oil-rich Kirkuk province are under IS control.
Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units have freed the provincial capital Tikrit, about 170 km from here, and other key cities and towns in the predominately Sunni Arab province of Salahudin.
Islamic State members have escalated attacks against civilians and security forces at areas recaptured by government troops and allied paramilitary forces over the past years. The attacks and counterattacks from security troops left hundreds of personnel, civilians and militants dead.
In early July, Iragi Government troops managed to recapture the group’s largest stronghold, Mosul, after more than eight months of U.S. backed offensives. The government is bent on further offensives to recapture areas still under IS’s control. The group still holds smaller havens in Salahuddin, Anbar, Kirkuk and Nineveh. ( ANI)