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Iraq sends reinforcements to Kirkuk after deadly IS sleeper-cell attacks Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Iraq sends reinforcements to Kirkuk after deadly IS sleeper-cell attacks

Iraqi forces announced the total defeat of IS in the country in December [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2018

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The Iraqi military has deployed reinforcements to the northern city of Kirkuk after the Islamic State group carried out attacks against government forces in recent weeks.

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Iraq, Kirkuk, IS.

The Iraqi military has deployed reinforcements to the northern city of Kirkuk after the Islamic State group carried out attacks against government forces in recent weeks.

The Ministry of Defence has sent three special forces units to the city in a bid to prevent further attacks from jihadists, a security source told The New Arab on Sunday.

"The move comes after the deadly IS attacks, which have confirmed that the group still has a large number of fighters in the province, posing a serious threat to the city and surrounding areas," the source said.

IS on Saturday killed two policemen guarding the northern Khabbaz oil field, in a first attack on energy facilities since jihadists were driven from the region's town.

Iraqi forces announced the total defeat of IS in the country in December after a punishing campaign to oust the group from territory it seized in 2014.

But cells of jihadists remain behind and have continued to carry out bloody attacks, including killing 27 pro-government Shia fighters in an ambush in the Hawija region last week.

Local politician Mohamed al-Jubouri said IS sleeper cells have been carrying out attacks in the Kirkuk region on a near-daily basis.

Jubouri accused "Kurdish separatists" of failing to cooperate with government forces in the fight against jihadists.

"The Peshmerga want people to say that they were better at protecting the city," he said.

Tensions between Baghdad and Iraq's Kurds have been high following a controversial September referendum on Kurdish independence, which prompted the central government to seize back oil-rich Kirkuk province from Kurdish forces.

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