10 security personnel killed in IS attacks in Iraq

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Baghdad, Aug 16 (IANS) At least 10 security personnel were killed on Wednesday in three attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants on military bases in Iraq’s Salahudin province, an official said.

Six suicide bombers wearing explosive vests carried out a pre-dawn attack on military bases in Baiji town, about 200 km from here, leading to heavy clashes for several hours, Xinhua quoted the source as saying.

The clashes resulted in the killing of nine policemen and four suicide bombers, the source said, adding the clashes continued till afternoon as the police were still fighting two suicide bombers in the town.

The IS seized Baiji in June 2014, but the Iraqi security forces liberated the town in late 2015.

The liberation of the town gave the Iraqi forces complete control of the highway stretching from Baghdad to Baiji, and allowed forces to use Baiji as a launching pad for a further advance toward the IS stronghold in Mosul.

Baiji has been almost totally destroyed by previous battles despite more than a year-and-a-half of being freed from IS militants.

Inhabitants cannot return to the devastated town as security forces, including the Hashd Shaabi units, are stationed in some bases in the town.

IS militants attacked the posts of paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units in Zuwiyah area, about 30 km north of Baiji, but the forces fought back and prevented the group from taking the bases, the source said.

Initial reports said at least one Hashd Shaabi member was killed and three wounded.

The third attack occurred early in the morning on a Kurdish forces military base near Tuz-Khurmato town that left two Peshmerga fighters wounded and an IS militant dead and another wounded, the source said.

In Salahudin province, the IS is still in control of Makhoul mountain range and the villages between the range and the Tigris River.

The eastern bank of the Shirqat twon, about 280 km from here, and its surrounding villages and area that stretch to the IS-held town of Hawijah in the western part of the oil-rich Kirkuk province are under IS control.

Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units have freed the provincial capital Tikrit, about 170 km from here, and other key cities and towns in the predominately Sunni Arab province of Salahudin.

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