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Iraq Starts Offensive Against Islamic State Near Oil-Rich Kirkuk

(DPA) -- Iraqi forces on Sunday launched an offensive against suspected insurgents from Islamic State near the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk, security sources said, three months after Baghdad announced that it had cleared the country of the extremist group.

Federal police and fighters from the pro-government Popular Mobilization militia, backed by airpower, were involved in the offensive in areas south-west of Kirkuk, the sources added.

The campaign was prompted by intelligence that Islamic State remnants?were planning to carry out attacks in the province, the sources said.

In recent weeks, suspected Islamic State insurgents have carried out several attacks targeting security forces in the areas north-west of Kirkuk.

Iraq?declared victory over Islamic State in?December?with the help of a US-led alliance, having retaken all the territory captured by the extremists in 2014 and 2015.

Isolated cells believed to be linked to the radical group remain active in some parts of the country.

Last month,?Iraq?announced the start of a military?operation in the western province of Anbar near the border with Syria, also targeting Islamic State.

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