A total of five Islamic State (IS) militants and three security members were killed Thursday in clashes near the Iraqi capital Baghdad and an airstrike in the eastern province of Diyala, the Iraqi military said.
Based on intelligence reports, commandos from the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) raided an IS hideout in orchards in the Tarmiyah area, some 40 km north of Baghdad, sparking fierce clashes, the spokesman of the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, Yahia Rasoul, said in a statement.
The clashes resulted in the killing of three IS militants, one of whom was wearing an explosive belt, Rasoul said, adding that the commandos commander, Lt. Col. Ammar No’man Salman, and two soldiers were also killed.
He added that another commando officer and four soldiers were injured in the clashes.
Intelligence reports said that the extremist IS militants were preparing for deadly attacks on thousands of Shiite pilgrims who have gathered to commemorate the death of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, the seventh of the most revered 12 Shiite Imams, at his golden-tomb mausoleum in the holy Shiite Kadhimiyah district in northern Baghdad.
In Diyala province, security forces found the bodies of two IS militants during a search operation in an IS hideout that was previously bombarded by Iraqi warplanes in the rugged Narin near the town of Qara-Tappa, some 175 km northeast of Baghdad, said the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) in a statement.
The security situation in Iraq has been improving since the defeat of the IS in 2017. However, the IS militants have since melted into urban centers, deserts, and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.