TIKRIT, Iraq, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Wednesday killed at least seven Islamic State (IS) militants in clashes at a village near the city of Shirqat in Iraq's central province of Salahudin, a provincial security source said.
The clashes erupted at dawn when about 10 IS militants attacked a military base at the village of Mseihli in southern Shirqat, some 280 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, Col. Mohammed al-Jubouri from the media office of the provincial police command told Xinhua.
The attackers first managed to seize two military sites at the village, but a helicopter gunship destroyed the two sites later, leaving seven militants killed and forcing the rest to flee to the neighboring village of al-Khanouga near the Tigris River, Jubouri said.
Government-backed paramilitary tribal fighters launched a search for the attackers in the rural area near the river, he added.
During the past few months, dozens of IS militants fled their former urban strongholds in Mosul, Salahudin and Hawijah area in the west of Kirkuk after the Iraqi forces cleared these areas during major anti-IS offensives.
However, remnants of IS militants resorted to hideouts in rugged areas near the rivers of Tigris and Zab, as well as Himreen mountainous areas to continue their almost daily attacks against civilians and Iraqi forces.
On Dec. 9, 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from the IS after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, the militants are still capable of carrying out attacks against security forces and civilians despite repeated operations to hunt them down.