Baghdad: The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group executed more than 30 tribesmen in western Iraq Wednesday, as government forces continued their offensive against the extremist militants across the country, security sources said.
The IS captured more than 40 tribesmen from the Sunni tribe of Albu Nimer in the militant seized town of Heet, some 160 km west of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, and executed the detainees accusing them of collaborating with the security forces against IS militants, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Most of the killed tribesmen were shot in the head in front of dozens of residents who were forced to witness the executions, the source said.
Security forces and their allied Sunni tribesmen have been battling the extremist Sunni militants in fierce clashes since mid-October. They managed to keep hold of parts of Heet, preventing it from falling into the hands of IS militants who have taken control of around 80 percent of the town. However, the government forces held their last positions in the town for only 10 days due to the lack of reinforcement troops and an ammunition shortage.
More than 1,000 heavily-armed tribesmen and some troops left the town in around 500 vehicles to take refuge in the nearby town of Barwana, which is still under the control of the Iraqi forces. Some government-allied tribesmen ceased fighting and returned to the town, while others apparently were captured by IS militants.
The IS group has seized around 80 percent of Iraq’s largest province of Anbar and is trying to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter-attacks by the security forces and Shia militias have pushed them away from areas west of the capital, which contains a large Shia population and is heavily fortified by security forces and Shia militias.
Meanwhile, troops have managed to secure the main road between the militant-seized city of Fallujah, about 50 km west of Baghdad, and Samarra, after clashes with IS militants, the source said without giving further details about casualties.
Near Baghdad, the security forces, backed by Shia militiamen and aircraft, took control of the areas of Duwyliebah and Rufoush in Abu Ghraib area, just west of the capital, after days of clashes with IS militants.
The clashes left some 72 militants dead and destroyed several vehicles. Government operatives defused more than 300 roadside bombs and 13 booby-trapped buildings, the Baghdad Operation Command said in a statement.
Since December last year, insurgent attacks have continued in the Sunni Arab heartland west of Baghdad that stretches through Anbar province, which has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside the city of Ramadi.
In Salahudin province, Iraqi security forces continued their advance toward the militant-seized town of Baiji, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
The troops recaptured the villages of Hajaj and Albu Tu’ma, after killing dozens of IS militants and defusing more than 115 roadside bombs, the source said.
In Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, security forces and Shia militiamen took control of a major base belonging to IS militants in the mountainous area of Himreen, after intense clashes that left 37 militants dead, some of whom were wearing explosive vests, the provincial police chief told Xinhua.
Separately, an officer and three security members were killed and eight others wounded in clashes with IS militants near the Sudour Dam, some 110 km northeast of Baghdad, the police chief said.
The security situation in Iraq began to drastically deteriorate June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and the IS following the militant group’s capture of the country’s northern city of Mosul and later seizure of swathes of territories, prompting Iraqi forces to abandon their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.