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Seven killed in Baghdad suburb despite anti-IS sweep: security sources

The attacks targeted members of Iraq's Hashed fighters [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 September, 2019

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Security sources in Iraq on Sunday said a number of people were killed in the capital despite the army recently declaring the area swept of jihadists.
Seven people have been killed in three attacks in the northern outskirts of the Iraqi capital, security sources said Sunday, despite the army recently declaring the area swept of jihadists.

The overnight attacks Saturday into Sunday targeted the homes of tribal fighters belonging to the powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force, as well as army barracks, in the Sunni suburb of Tarmiya, the sources said.

The Tribal Hashed is composed largely of Sunni fighters and feeds into the broader Shia-dominated Hashed al-Shaabi, which fought back the Islamic State group with Iraqi troops.

Tarmiya has long been a bastion of Sunni extremist groups and IS sleeper cells have continued to operate in the area, according to the security sources. 

"Unidentified gunmen attacked the home of a member of the Tribal Hashed, killing him, his wife, his son and mother," a police officer told AFP, asking to remain anonymous.

The officer said a separate attack overnight saw sniper fire hit an army barracks, killing two members of the security forces.

And at dawn on Sunday, another attack targeted a Tribal Hashed member's home, killing one, he added. 

On Sunday afternoon, security forces announced they had killed one would-be suicide bomber in a village in the Tarmiya region. 

For weeks this summer, Iraqi forces - the army, police and the Hashed - combed the orchards around Tarmiya for IS sleeper cells.

In July, they declared the operation a success after arresting several alleged IS members.

IS overran large parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in areas they controlled.

Iraq in late 2017 declared victory against IS but the group's disparate network of undercover fighters still carries out deadly attacks across the country.

On Friday, an attack claimed by IS killed 12 people on the edge of Karbala, as the Shia holy city prepares to receive millions of pilgrims next month.

The explosion occurred as the bus was passing through an Iraqi army checkpoint, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Karbala in the direction of the town of al-Hilla. One official told The Associated Press that before the blast, a passenger exited the minibus but left a bag containing explosives under one of the seats. The device was then detonated remotely at the checkpoint.

The officials said all of the dead were civilians killed in the explosion and subsequent fire in the bus. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Iraq is preparing to host millions of visitors next month for the annual Arbaeen procession - marking the end of the mourning period for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, a central figure in Shia Islam.

Muslims from around the world visit Karbala, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, during this time of year to take part in commemorations.

Earlier this month, thirty-one pilgrims were killed and about 100 injured as hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims marked Ashura, one of the most solemn holy days of the year. It was the deadliest stampede in recent history during Ashura commemorations in Iraq.

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