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At least nine Iraqi Kurd fighters, three brothers killed in attacks blamed on ISIS

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At least nine Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and three brothers were killed in northern Iraq attacks blamed on the ISIS terrorist group, officials and a family member said Friday.

The extremists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of the Kurdish capital of Arbil, late Thursday, killing the three civilians and two peshmerga, Kurdish security officials said.

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The peshmerga launched an operation in response, and seven more fighters died when “an explosive device planted by ISIS elements” blew up.

The three civilians, brothers aged between 11 and 24, were children of a village official, a relative told AFP.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s prime minister, Masrour Barzani, later said that another peshmerga fighter died in a road accident while transporting the casualties.

“We ask the (international) coalition forces and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi to provide the peshmerga with weapons because they are defending the homeland,” Barzani told reporters.

ISIS seized swathes of Iraq in a lightning offensive in 2014, before being beaten back by a counter-insurgency campaign supported by a US-led military coalition.

The Iraqi government declared the terrorist group defeated in late 2017, although ISIS retains sleeper cells which still strike security forces with hit-and-run attacks.

Late last month, five Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga were killed and four wounded in a roadside bombing claimed by ISIS.

That bombing, south of the city of Sulaimaniyah, underlined the “serious threat” ISIS still poses to northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, Barzani said at the time.

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