Islamic State group militants killed seven members of Iraq’s security forces today during a raid south of the jihadist bastion Mosul which pro-government troops are battling to recapture, officials said.
The attack comes in the third week of the massive operation to retake Iraq’s second city from IS, which has already carried out diversionary attacks in other areas.
The militants crossed the Tigris River early in the morning and clashed with security personnel in the Sharqat area about 90 kilometres from Mosul, police officers said.
The militants killed four soldiers, two tribal militiamen and one policeman, according to the police officers, who said that clashes in the area were still ongoing.
One of the officers, a lieutenant colonel, said that the jihadists had planted bombs in the area.
Ali Dawdah, the local official responsible for the area, confirmed that seven security personnel were killed.
Iraq announced the recapture of Sharqat in September, but IS holds areas to its east, and generally is still able to move in smaller numbers within government-held territory.
The jihadists have launched a series of attacks aimed at diverting resources away from the Mosul operation, including one in the city of Kirkuk that sparked multiple days of fighting and left dozens dead.
Iraqi forces have said they foiled other attacks, while a series of bombings has also hit areas in and around Baghdad.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground, and Mosul is the country’s last city still held by the jihadists.