IS kills 3 Iraq village chiefs in a week
Three village chiefs have been killed by Islamic State group militants in Iraq's restive north, local officials confirmed on Saturday, as the targeting of state representatives escalates.
Local administrative heads known as “mukhtars” were targeted by jihadist cells waging regular attacks on state infrastructure and government officials in mountainous areas like the northern province of Kirkuk.
The latest victim on Friday night was the mukhtar of the Mahmudiya village near the town of Hawija.
The town has long been a bastion of radical Sunni Muslim groups and was one of the last IS holdouts retaken by government troops last year.
Mahmudiya mukhtar "Abdallah al-Wasmi was executed by Daesh members who attacked his home," a local security official told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
His death followed the similar killing of the mukhtar of a nearby village, Hanutiya, late on Wednesday.
And on Monday, a provincial official told AFP that "IS fighters attacked the home of Mohammad Jumaa, the mukhtar of the village of Jassemiya", also near Hawija.
"They took him out of his house and executed him in front of it before fleeing," the official said.
The recent killings bring to nine the number of village chieftains executed by IS in the past seven months in Kirkuk province.
IS fighters swept into Iraq in the summer of 2014, taking control of nearly a third of the country. At the height of the group's power its self-proclaimed caliphate stretched from the edges of Aleppo in Syria to just north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
With its physical caliphate largely destroyed, IS is transforming from a "proto-state" to a covert "terrorist" network, "a process that is most advanced in Iraq" because it still controls pockets in Syria, according to a UN report.
The UN report said IS may still have up to 30,000 members roughly equally distributed between Syria and Iraq.
Last month, Iraqi commandos and Kurdish counter-terrorism forces arrested members of the al-Rawi network, a key IS financial network, in operations 7-9 October in Baghdad and Erbil in northern Iraq, the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State said in a statement.
According to the coalition commander, US Army Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera, the arrests "deal a major blow to the desperate attempts by ISIS to re-emerge in Iraq".
"Those who provide support to ISIS, in any way, will face the consequences," he said.
Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr al-Rawi, who headed the network, was killed in June 2017 during a strike in Albu Kamal in eastern Syria.
The US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on al-Rawi and his company in 2016.
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