KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — Islamic State militants attacked a base near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Sunday, killing two soldiers before U.S.-led forces launched a wave of airstrikes to repel the assault, officials said.
Maj. Gen. Hiwa Rash told The Associated Press that two attackers blew themselves up at the entrance to the base and the other three were killed in a shootout with Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga.
Three peshmerga forces were wounded in the assault, he added.
The Islamic State group claimed the attack.
Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said coalition troops are not permanently stationed at the base but were in the area when the attack occurred.
“Airstrikes were called in to help defeat the IS attack,” he said. “A number of aircraft responded and decimated the enemy.”
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are slowly pushing IS from its remaining strongholds in the city of Mosul, further to the north, as part of a massive operation launched in October.
Iraqi forces pushed into Mosul’s northwestern edge Sunday afternoon after the launch of a new push to retake the city’s remaining IS-held neighborhoods last week, according to Iraqi Col. Falah al-Wabdan. Wabdan said Iraq’s rapid response units — specialized forces who fall under the Interior Ministry — led the advance.
IS has repeatedly targeted civilians and Iraqi forces in other areas of the country since the Mosul operation began, and is expected to favor insurgent-style attacks as it loses more territory.
Associated Press writer Balint Szlanko in Mosul, Iraq, contributed to this report.