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IS gunmen in Iraq kill 11 soldiers in brazen attack on barracks

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IS gunmen in Iraq kill 11 soldiers in brazen attack on barracks

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Gunmen from the extremist Islamic State group attacked an army barracks in a mountainous region north of Baghdad, killing 11 soldiers as they slept, Iraqi security officials said.

BAGHDAD – Gunmen from the extremist group Islamic State attacked an army barracks in a mountainous region north of Baghdad early Friday, killing 11 soldiers as they slept, Iraqi security officials said.

Officials said the attack occurred in Al-Azim district, an open area north of Baqouba in Diyala province. The circumstances of the attack were not immediately clear, but two officials who spoke to The Associated Press said Islamic State militants broke into the barracks at 3 a.m. local time and shot the soldiers.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release official statements.

The brazen attack more than 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital Baghdad was one of the deadliest to target the Iraqi army in recent months.

The Islamic State group was largely defeated in the country in 2017, although it remains active through sleeper cells in many areas. Militants from the Sunni Muslim extremist group still carry out operations, often targeting security forces, power plants and other infrastructure.

In October, IS militants armed with machine guns attacked a predominantly Shiite village in Diyala province, killing 11 civilians and injuring several others. Officials at the time said the attack happened after the militants abducted villagers and their ransom demands were not met.

Officials said army reinforcements had been sent to the village where Friday’s attack occurred, and security forces deployed to surrounding areas. Further details were not immediately available and the Iraqi military did not immediately comment.

IS attacks have increased in recent months in Iraq and neighboring Syria, where the group once established a so-called Islamic caliphate before being defeated by an international coalition.

On Thursday evening, IS militants mounted a complex attack on a detention center in northeast Syria in an attempt to free fighters from the group held there.

Kurdish-led forces controlling Gerwan prison in the city of Hassakeh, which houses around 3,000 inmates, said the prisoners rioted and tried to escape as a car bomb exploded outside. outside the prison as armed men clashed with security forces.

The US-led coalition carried out an airstrike after reporting casualties among Syrian-led Kurdish forces. On Friday, the Syrian Kurdish Force said two militants who escaped were arrested.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that six militants, two Kurdish security personnel and a civilian were killed in the overnight clashes. The Kurdish force reported no casualties.

In 2014, IS established a self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate that covered large parts of Iraq and Syria. The ensuing war against them lasted for several years and left large parts of the two neighboring countries in ruins. It also left US-allied Kurdish authorities in control of eastern and northeastern Syria, with a small presence of several hundred US forces still deployed there.

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Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed reporting.

IS gunmen in Iraq kill 11 soldiers in brazen attack on barracks

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