ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An armed confrontation occurred following an attack by Islamic State (IS) fighters on Iran-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias south of Kirkuk, said a security source.
The clashes, which took place on Friday evening, were the latest since the militias, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), announced an operation in areas surrounding Kirkuk province's southern borders aimed at clearing them of remaining IS members.
The source told Kurdistan 24 that the jihadist group launched an initial surprise attack with a variety of different weapons on a gathering of PMF in the vicinity of the towns of Suleiman Begg and Jabara.
Suleiman Begg is located in Salahaddin Province, south of the town of Tuz Khurmatu, and was a key stronghold of IS in 2014.
The subsequent confrontation took place in the villages of al-Hafriya and al-Luqum, located near Suleiman Begg, according to Kurdistan 24 Correspondent Harem Jaff. The number of casualties remains unknown, said the security source.
The attack comes a day after a similar attack that killed and wounded multiple Iraqi security forces in the town of Jalawla in the neighboring province of Diyala.
IS assaults have increased, just a week before Iraqi national legislative elections are to be held on May 12, the first in the country since IS was beaten militarily in Dec. 2017.
Although Iraq declared victory over IS at the time, the jihadist group continues to carry out bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, and other attacks on a regular basis.
Editing by John J. Catherine