3 Daesh militants blow themselves up in north Iraq

Three suspected Daesh group suicide bombers blew themselves up Sunday in northern Iraq, the army said, a day after the extremist “caliphate” was wiped out in neighboring Syria. Army spokesman Yahya Rassoul said the incident took place in a region near the Syrian border, where extremist sleeper cells are believed to be present.

He said the suspects died as troops surrounded them but there were no casualties among government forces. Local officials said the suspects were killed as they were trying to attack troops in the village of Qayrawan, south of the mountainous region of Sinjar which borders Syria. Fighters of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces Saturday pronounced the death of the nearly five-year-old Daesh “caliphate” which once stretched across a vast swathe of Syria and Iraq.

Their victory was hailed as a major landmark in the battle against the extremists but there have also been numerous calls for “vigilance” with many saying the fight is far from over. Top SDF commander Mazloum Kobane Saturday warned that a new phase had begun in anti-Daesh operations and appealed for sustained assistance from the U.S.-led coalition to help smash “sleeper cells.”

Diehard extremists continue to have a presence in mountainous or desert regions between Syria and Iraq, which had declared victory over Daesh in December 2017. In Iraq some of these regions remain inaccessible to security forces.