BAGHDAD, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces Saturday killed a prominent local Islamic State (IS) leader in Iraq's central province of Salahudin, a provincial police source said.
The incident occurred in early morning when a joint force from soldiers and paramilitary tribal fighters clashed with a group of IS militants, who were moving at a rural area in west of the city of Shirqat, some 280 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Col. Mohammed al-Bazi from Salahudin provincial police, told Xinhua.
The joint force shot dead Salih Karkaz, leader of an IS force known as "Nahawand Battalion," who was wanted for the Iraqi forces, Bazi said.
The troops identified Karkaz body, as he is known for them as a villager from the village of Lazzaga near the town of Hawijah, which once was an IS stronghold in the western part of neighboring Kirkuk province, Bazi added.
Hundreds of IS militants earlier fled their former bases in the key cities of Salahudin, including the provincial capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, after the Iraqi forces cleared these areas during major anti-IS offensives.
Late in 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, some IS remnants have since melted in urban areas or fled to deserts and rugged areas in the country, carrying out attacks from time to time against security forces and civilians.