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27 paramilitary Hashd Shaabi fighters killed in ambush in central Iraq
Up to 27 members of paramilitary Hashd Shaabi fighters were killed in an ambush by Islamic State (IS) militants near the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk province, a Hashd Shaabi statement said on Monday.
The incident occurred on Sunday night when a force of Hashd Shaabi force were ambushed by a terrorist militants disguised in military uniforms in Hawijah area, in the southwestern part of the oil-rich Kirkuk province, the statement said.
Fierce clashes erupted at the scene for more than two hours, which only ended when reinforcement force from Hashd Shaabi fighters intervened, the statement added.
All the 27 paramilitary fighters were from the force ambushed by the insurgent militants, who exploited their large number and bad whether during the attack, it said.
In the morning, members of a Shiite tribe in Basra mourned 11 of its sons who were part of the ambushed by IS militants in Kirkuk province, according to the statement.
The ambushed Hashd Shaabi force has carried out eight search operations in the area during the past few day and has detained large number of suspected terrorists from IS sleeper cells, it said.
Meanwhile, Captain Ahmed al-Jubouri from Hawijah police confirmed the toll of the incident and said that all the killed paramilitary fighters were from Hashd Shaabi's 16th Brigade.
"Eight vehicles for the Hashd Shhabi were burned during the battle, but there is no report about casualties among the extremist militants who fled the scene," Jubouri told Xinhua.
During the past few months, dozens of IS militants fled their former bases in the predominately Sunni Arab province of Salahudin, Hawijah area in west of Kirkuk, after the Iraqi forces drove out the extremist militants from these areas during anti-IS offensives in the past few months.
On Dec. 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, small groups and individuals of IS militants melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas looking for safe havens. They still capable of carrying out attacks from time to time against the security forces and civilians.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 19Feb18]
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