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Iraqi Forces Kill 26 Islamic State Fighters Near Oil Refinery Town: Reports

© REUTERS / Ahmed SaadMembers of the Iraqi security forces carry their weapons during an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Baiji, north of Baghdad, December 8, 2014.
Members of the Iraqi security forces carry their weapons during an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Baiji, north of Baghdad, December 8, 2014. - Sputnik International
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Iraqi security forces backed by volunteers killed 26 Islamic State fighters near Baiji, a strategic oil refinery town in northern Iraq.

Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW, January 5 (Sputnik) — Iraq's security forces have killed at least 26 Islamic State (IS) militants in the country's northern province of Salah al-Din, a military source told the Iraqi News agency on Monday.

"The security forces backed by the volunteers killed 26 ISIL terrorists and destroyed 3 vehicles […]," the unnamed military source was quoted as saying.

According to the news outlet, the militants were killed near Baiji, a strategic oil refinery town in northern Iraq.

The IS, a radical Sunni group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has seized vast areas in Syria and Iraq beginning 2012 and 2014 respectively. The group, which declared an Islamic caliphate on territories under its control, is known for human rights atrocities, including beheading prisoners and posting videos of the events online. According to CIA estimates, the group numbers around 30,000 fighters, and includes many foreign national mercenaries.

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Instead of a single anti-IS front, several military groups are fighting the militants. Government forces from both Syria and Iraq, a US-led coalition, as well as the region's own native Kurdish fighters are all active in countering IS, each with their own mandate. As a result of these combat operations, many thousands of civilians have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced and thousands more are held hostage by IS.

The United States has been leading its own 60-nation coalition air campaign on IS strongholds since August in Iraq and since September in Syria, the latter despite no explicit permission from Syrian authorities.

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