Baghdad.- Iraqi airstrikes killed nine suspected fighters of Islamic Stateincluding four Lebanese, in retaliation for an IS attack on Iraqi army barracks earlier this month, authorities said on Sunday.
Armed men of the Islamic State in Iraq stormed a barracks in the mountainous al-Azim district outside the city of Baqouba on January 21, killing a guard and shooting 11 soldiers to death as they slept. It was one of the militants’ boldest attacks in recent weeks and came amid a surge in violence that has stoked fears the group has been revitalized.
Yehia Rasool, the spokesman for the Iraqi commander-in-chief, said the joint military operations room and air force had identified the cell behind the attack because its members hid in al-Azim, north of Baghdad.
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three were released air strikes who killed the nine militants, he said.
A security official told The Associated Press that four of the dead were Lebanese, natives of the northern city of Tripoli. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Tripoli is the second largest city in the Lebanon and the most impoverished in the country. She has been prone to violence and militants who, inspired by the group Islamic Statelaunched attacks against the Lebanese army in 2014 in the most serious episode of violence in the city.
While Lebanon facing an unprecedented convergence of crises, including a rapid descent into poverty, many fear militants are trying to exploit discontent among the city’s majority Sunni residents.
Lebanese television Al-Jadeed gave a higher death toll, saying that five Lebanese were killed in Iraq. A family member appealed in the broadcast to the Lebanese authorities to facilitate the return of the bodies.
Also on Sunday, Iraqi counterterrorism units carried out an inspection campaign at seven prisons in Iraq that house militants of the Islamic State. The move comes after a brazen prison attack by Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria lasted more than a week.
The attack to prison in Hassakeh province in northeast Syria it was carried out by some 200 militants who were joined by inmates who rioted, leaving dozens dead while an unknown number of suspects escaped.
On Sunday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the end of its sweep operations at the prison “by eliminating the last pockets in the northern dormitories where (Islamic State) terrorists had entrenched themselves.”
The January 20 attack took place in the largest of a dozen detention centers in Syria that house militants. More than 3,000 alleged militants of the Islamic State, including more than 600 minors, were detained there. The Kurdish-led SDF said most of the inmates and militants had surrendered and dozens were killed.
IS was largely defeated in Iraq in 2017. The group dealt a final blow in 2019 when it lost its last territory in southeastern Syria during the military campaign led by U.S in cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish-led forces.
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But thousands of militants they melted into the desert and continued to launch attacks, frequently hitting security forces and the army with roadside bombs and firing on military convoys or checkpoints in both countries.
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