22 IS militants killed in clashes, airstrike in Iraq



At least 22 militants of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group were killed on Tuesday in an airstrike and two IS attacks on Iraqi forces north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, security sources said.

In Iraq's northern central province of Salahudin, the IS militants carried out an attack in al-Dyoum area west of the besieged city of Tikrit, the capital of Salahudin province, but were repelled by the security forces and allied Shia and Sunni militias, a provincial security source told Xinhua news agency on condition of anonymity.

The troops foiled the IS attack which was aimed at breaking the week-long siege of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, killing at least seven IS militants, the source said.

The battles to free Tikrit from IS militants have been stalled as the militants planted thousands of bombs and booby-trapped dozens of buildings and cars. But sporadic clashes continue.

Separately, the army's helicopter gunships pounded an IS convoy of eight vehicles on a desert road near the militant-held town of Seiniyah, some 30 km north of Tikrit, destroying five vehicles carrying heavy machine guns, and leaving at least 12 militants dead, the source added.

The vehicles are believed to be part of reinforcements for the IS militants who have held the town of Seiniyah for months, according to the source.

Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and thousands of allied Shia and Sunni militias have been involved in the two-week operation to recapture Tikrit and other key towns and villages in the northern part of Salahudin province from IS militants.

Large parts of the province have been under IS control since June 2014, after bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the group.

Meanwhile, security forces killed three suicide bombers before they could reach a security checkpoint at the entrance of the town of Tarmiyah, some 40 km north of Baghdad, interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said in a statement.

The troops later carried out a controlled detonation of a booby-trapped car used by the attackers without casualties, Maan added.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack in Tarmiyah but the IS, in most cases, is responsible for such suicide attacks in the country.

In June last year, the IS took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territory in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces. - IANS