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Islamic State militants killed at least 12 Iraqi policemen and wounded several more in an overnight attack at an outpost near the city of Kirkuk amid concerns the group is expanding its attacks in Iraq and Syria.

Police officials said insurgents using pickup trucks attacked the checkpoint in Rashad district in the early hours of Sunday, and placed improvised explosive devices, or IEDs along the road leading to the police position to slow any support from security forces. A firefight lasted for several hours, said one official, before retreating as police reinforcements made their way to the area.

Three of the policemen were killed by IEDs. A separate attack in Nineveh province Sunday morning saw Islamic State militants attack an army checkpoint, killing three soldiers, police said, while several security personnel were wounded when militants attacked a police patrol in Diyalla province, north of Baghdad.

Kirkuk Governor Rakan al-Jabouri called for an emergency meeting of Iraq’s national security council to improve and coordinate the military response to the Islamic State threat in the area.

Though Islamic State attacks in Kirkuk province are commonplace, this was the largest and bloodiest so far this year. The group has switched to ambushes and hit-and-run attacks against government outposts and patrols since it was defeated in 2017, raising concerns that it is attempting to expand its influence. The group also claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack carried out by its Afghanistan affiliate at Kabul on Aug. 26 that killed nearly 200 people at the height of the Western airlift effort there.

Last Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron raised concerns about an Islamic State resurgence in Iraq and Syria during a visit to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In July, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed 30 people in the al-Woheilat market in Sadr City, a predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad.

There are currently around 3,500 coalition troops in Iraq, around 2,500 of them U.S. forces. Washington has been reducing its military presence in the country as Iran-backed militias step up attacks on its air bases and other facilities. From next year, the U.S. role will be reduced to training and advising Iraqi soldiers.

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

 

 

 

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