World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi joint forces began the operation on Thursday after the terrorist group reportedly carried out several attacks on security personnel in southwestern Kirkuk.
“Joint security forces -- including elements from the army, police and the Hashd al-Shaabi -- killed 44 ISIL militants in Kirkuk’s Al-Riyadh, Al-Hawija and Al-Abbasi areas,” Police Captain Hamed al-Obeidi said.
Eleven others, al-Obeidi said, had been captured by Iraqi forces.
“The militants were hiding out in different areas of southwestern Kirkuk," he added, going on to note that the mopping-up operation was still underway.
Last October, Iraqi forces captured Kirkuk’s Hawija district (roughly 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk city), which had been considered one of the terrorist group’s last strongholds in northern Iraq.
In recent months, ISIL has suffered a string of major defeats in both Iraq and Syria after overrunning vast swathes of territory in both countries in mid-2014.