At least six Daesh terrorists, including a top group leader, were killed in two separate security sweeps carried out in Iraq's northern Kirkuk province, local security sources said Monday.
“Security forces killed senior Daesh leader Abu Walid al-Shishani in a remote area close to Kirkuk city,” a senior Iraqi intelligence officer told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The source described al-Shishani as a “close associate” of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and “the mastermind” behind a string of recent Daesh attacks in Kirkuk.
Elsewhere in Kirkuk province, Iraqi security forces killed five Daesh militants in a separate operation, according to Kirkuk Police Captain Hamed al-Obeidi.
“Iraqi forces killed five armed men in the village of Al-Hamra in the Rashad district some 35 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk during a raid on a suspected Daesh hideout,” al-Obeidi told Anadolu Agency.
Recently, Daesh remnants appear to have stepped up attacks in and around Kirkuk, erecting fake security checkpoint and killing a number of security personnel and civilians.
Late last year, officials in Baghdad declared that Daesh's military presence in Iraq had been all but destroyed.
It appears the notorious terrorist group, however, still maintains “sleeper cells” in several parts of the country, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.