Baghdad - Eleven soldiers were killed in an overnight attack by the Islamic State group against a base in eastern Iraq, authorities said Friday, in the militants’ deadliest operation in the country this year.
The extremist group took over large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, before Baghdad declared victory in late 2017 after a grinding national campaign.
But a low-level insurgency by the militants has persisted, flaring up at various points, especially in rural areas north of Baghdad around the city of Kirkuk, and in the eastern provinces of Diyala and Salaheddin.
In a further sign of its resilience, IS also on Friday attacked a prison in Syria, killing at least 18 Kurdish security forces and prison guards, while losing at least 16 of it own fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
A senior military official based in Iraq’s Diyala province said “eleven soldiers... have been killed during an attack carried out by the Islamic State” against a military base.
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The attack took place around 2:30 am (2330 GMT) on Friday in the Hawi al-Azim area, the source added, on condition of anonymity. Diyala province governor Muthanna al-Tamimi confirmed the death toll, according to the Iraqi News Agency. But he also hit out at the Iraqi army, alleging they were caught unprepared.
“The base is fortified. There is a thermal camera, night vision goggles and a concrete watch-tower,” he said.
“The terrorists exploited the cold and the negligence of the soldiers,” he alleged, adding that the attackers then escaped to the neighbouring province of Salaheddin.