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Clashes between Iraqi forces and Daesh leave at least 7 dead

By AFP - Feb 20,2021 - Last updated at Feb 20,2021

Iraqi forces search the area in Tarmiyah, 35 kilometres north of Baghdad, on Saturday, following clashes with Daesh group fighters (AFP photo)

TARMIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi security forces clashed with the Daesh terror group north of Baghdad on Saturday, leaving at least five extremists and two security personnel dead.

A joint force of army troops and state-sponsored tribal fighters raided a Daesh hideout in the leafy plains of Tarmiyah, according to a statement from the military.

"We had learnt that Daesh was holding a meeting there to plan for attacks on the capital Baghdad," Ahmad Salim, head of the Baghdad Operations Command, said near the site of the fighting.

Ensuing clashes killed five Daesh fighters and two tribal pro-government forces, the military statement said.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhemi met with top military commanders as troops combed the fields and agricultural lands around Tarmiyah.

The new raid comes nearly one month to the day after twin suicide bombers killed more than 30 people in the packed Tayaran Square, the bloodiest such attack in Baghdad in three years.

Security sources said the two extremists had infiltrated the city from the north.

A few days later, nearly a dozen fighters from Iraq's Hashed Al Shaabi, a powerful network of state-sponsored groups, were killed in a Daesh ambush — also north of the capital.

Since then, security forces have ramped up their efforts to hunt Daesh sleeper cells there, with Kadhemi announcing the killing of Abu Yasser Al Issawi, identified as the top Daesh figure in Iraq, on January 28.

In early February, security forces killed another Daesh leader who they believed helped transport the twin bombers into Baghdad.

Iraq declared Daesh territorially defeated in late 2017 after a three-year fight aided by US-led coalition air strikes and military advisors.

Daesh attacks in urban areas have dramatically dropped since then, but Iraqi troops have continued to battle sleeper cells in the country’s mountainous and desert areas.

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