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Iraqi military says it killed 15 IS militants in the north

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Iraqi military says it killed 15 IS militants in the north

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Iraqi forces have killed 15 Islamic State militants inside a tunnel during a search operation in the northern Sunni-majority Salahuddin province, the military said on Wednesday.

Islamic State, which once occupied a third of Iraq's territory, has been largely defeated in the country but has continued to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings there and still poses a threat.

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Security forces "have completed a search operation which led to the destruction of two hideouts used by the terrorists and the killing of 15 elements inside a large tunnel," a spokesman for the military's Joint Operations Command said in a statement. It did not say when the incident took place.

Iraq declared final victory over Islamic State in December but the militant group has resorted to guerrilla tactics since it abandoned its goal of holding territory and creating a self-declared caliphate straddling Iraq and Syria.

Most of its activity in Iraq takes place in the three provinces of Salahuddin, Diyala, and Kirkuk.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Peter Graff)

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