Lower security due to coronavirus crisis leads ISIS to start new wave of terror attacks
On the first week of the holy month of Ramadan, a suicide bomber detonated his device outside a government building in Kirkuk, a city 150 miles north of Baghdad, killing three security guards. And on Saturday members of the terror group coordinated a three-pronged attack in Iraq’s Salahaddin province, leaving 10 Iraqi military fighters dead.
Across the border in Syria, more than 30 soldiers were slain in a terrorist attack spanning two days.
The attacks come as Iraqi authorities scaled back the number of troops on the ground due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The military’s overall presence has been slashed by half while US-led coalitions forces continue their withdrawal from bases in Neneveh and Kirkuk.
And territorial clashes between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities have left part of three provinces without law enforcement.
This leaves communities particularly vulnerable to attacks.
Saturday’s attack targeted members of the Hashd al-Shaabi forces, made up of predominantly Shia fighters.
Reports from Hashd and Iraqi state media told of clashes erupting between the paramilitary unit, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, and Isis in the town of Mekeeshfa and the city of Balad early on Saturday.
The military group said in a statement that they had killed several Isis terrorist in the gun fight.
“The Popular mobilisation forces and security forces have killed and wounded a number of ISIL fighters after being exposed to significant attacks on Balad and Mekeeshfah south of Tikrit, said Hashd.
“The Hashd also lost 10 members, while several others were wounded in clashes between the two sides.”
Experts estimate the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq to be somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000.
And further 500 have escaped from prisons in Syria, booting the terror group’s ranks.
ISIS has been planning a new wave of attacks amid the coronavirus crisis (Image: GETTY)
On April 9 as many as 32 Syrian soldiers were killed by Isis.
Terrorists targeted the settlement of Sukhna near the war-torn city of Homs.
Two oil fields suffered heavy damage which caused electricity production to plummet to 70 percent of normal levels.
Forces called for extra help to stave off Isis and a Russian airstrike was carried out.
But the Syrian military still suffered heavy blows in the gun battle which went on for two days.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 32 troops were killed and 26 Isis fighters.
Days later on April 13 ISIS attacked gas wells in the fields of Shaer and Hayan.
Both sites were left unable to operate which caused a 30 percent drop in electricity production.
March 15 marked nine years since the start of Syria’s civil war.
Syria has recorded three deaths from coronavirus and 44 cases while Iraq has confirmed 97 fatalities and 2,296 cases.