MOSUL, Iraq – The Islamic State terror organization claimed responsibility on Monday for an ambush that killed 27 pro-government militia members in the al-Hawija region of the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk, according to a statement by the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency.
In the statement, the veracity of which could not be confirmed, IS claimed to have disguised its fighters in Iraqi military uniforms and opened fire on the pro-government Popular Mobilization forces on Sunday, destroying six sport-utility vehicles, in the municipality of al-Riyadh in al-Hawija.
Earlier on Monday, the bodies of the slain members of the Shiite Popular Mobilization forces were laid to rest in a funeral procession at the Muthenna military airbase near the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
In recent months, al-Hawija has been the scene of attacks carried out by IS radicals against Iraqi security forces and civilians.
The Iraqi government had announced the country’s total liberation from IS in December, after the terror organization was expelled from the large swaths of northern and western Iraq that it had controlled from mid-2014 until the end of 2017.
On Feb. 13, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech in which he asserted that IS was not yet fully defeated and continued to pose a danger to the region despite losing 98 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria, during a conference on Iraqi reconstruction in Kuwait.