2 Yezidi fighters killed in blast during ISIS operation near Sinjar Mountain
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi army announced on Tuesday that two fighters from the Yezidi (Ezidi) Protection Units (YBS) militia group were killed and another five injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated during a joint security operation outside Sinjar (Shingal) earlier that day.
According to a statement released by the Security Media Cell, the Iraqi military's communications center, YBS soldiers and army forces were conducting a sweep for remnants of the Islamic State within the village of Aziz, located in Qahtania district in a rural area surrounding Shingal Mountain. Shingal, near the Syrian border in Iraq's Nineveh province, is disputed by the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
It also mentioned that local residents' property had been damaged and livestock had been killed or wounded.
The YBS is compromised of members of Shingal's Ezidi religious minority, against which the Islamic State carried out a campaign of mass-murder and brutal persecution beginning in 2014 that has since been widely recognized as an act of genocide.
The Iraqi army launched simultaneous operations backed by areal strikes in different parts of Iraq to hunt down Islamic State fighters, after escalating attacks by members of the organization in Kirkuk, Diyala, and Anbar provinces.
The military also announced that its forces discovered and destroyed a concealed hideout containing barrels of fuel used by Islamic State militants for insurgent attacks along with several explosives vests.
A security source reported that the operations have killed 10 Islamic State fighters and destroyed a total of 15 hideouts, according to Iraqi news outlet Shafaq.
On Monday, multiple casualties were reported on both sides during clashes between security forces and fighters from the extremist group in rural areas to the south of the Kirkuk, also part of the disputed territories.
The recent incidents appear to show that the Islamic State has increased its activity over the past two weeks.
Islamic State sleeper cells continue to carry out attacks, over two years after Baghdad declared a military victory over the group in late 2017.
Over the past few months, the coronavirus outbreak has presented a new challenge to the Iraqi government, adding to the lack of security coordination with the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga in areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.
Islamic State militants appear to be exploiting the fact that resources and attention have been diverted to enforce curfews and otherwise deal with the disease's effects. On Sunday alone, Iraqi forces had three engagements with sleeper cells in disputed territories.
Early reports indicated that one police officer was killed, while the security forces captured one militant.
Editing by John J. Catherine