Nine Iraq forces killed in clashes with IS north of Baghdad
Samarra (Iraq) (AFP)
Fighters from the Islamic State group killed nine members of the Iraqi security forces in clashes that broke out in a remote area north of Baghdad, security officials said Friday.
The clashes broke out when IS fighters based in the Hamreen mountain range attacked army and police forces in an area called Mutaibijah, 110 kilometres (70 miles) north of Baghdad.
The area lies on the banks of the Udhaim river, near the mountain hideouts where pockets of jihadists remained after Iraqi forces reconquered most regions east of the Tigris in 2015 and 2016.
"We have nine killed and 24 wounded among the security forces," an army lieutenant colonel from the Samarra operations command told AFP.
"The attack started around 10:00 pm (1900 GMT) last night," he said.
A lieutenant colonel in the federal police said "Daesh (IS) fighters came down the river and down the mountain to attack security checkpoints."
He said that IS fighters eventually pulled back and that the security forces were back in control of the area.
A security official in Dhuluiyah, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the site of the attack, said tribal fighters from his town tried to assist the security forces.
"They were stuck on the road because of security restrictions... but when they reached the area, they saw destroyed military vehicles and bodies of security forces completely charred," he said.
The jihadists no longer have fixed positions in populated areas in the region but there is an unknown number of militants holed up in the Hamreen mountains, a range that cuts across the provinces of Diyala and Salaheddin.
Iraqi security forces are battling IS further north as part of shaping operations for a broad offensive against Mosul, a large northern city which is the jihadists' last major urban stronghold in Iraq.
© 2016 AFP