BAGHDAD, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi tribal fighters on Wednesday killed five Islamic state (IS) militants in a clash in the desert in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial police source said.
The incident took place when the government-backed tribal fighters from the town of Haditha, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, carried out a search operation looking for truffle collectors kidnapped by IS militants, the source told Xinhua on anonymity.
As the tribal fighters were searching Horan Valley in the desert, they clashed with the extremist militants hiding in the valley, leaving five IS militants killed, while two of the tribal fighters were wounded, the source said.
Meanwhile, Col. Faisal al-Dulaimi, leader of tribal fighters affiliated with Hashd Shaabi brigades, confirmed the clash and the casualties of both sides in Horan Valley and said that the tribal fighters seized weapons and ammunition from the extremist militants.
The IS militants are still active in the vast Anbar desert that stretches to the border with neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as many civilians have been kidnapped or killed by the extremist group recently.
The security situation in Iraq has been dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces declared they had fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
However, groups of extremist militants melted or regrouped in urban or in deserts and rugged areas, and have been carrying out attacks against the security forces and civilians despite operations from time to time to hunt them down.