Suspected ISIL fighters kill 11 Iraqi soldiers ‘in their sleep’

Iraqi officials say brazen attack took place at barracks in al-Azim district, in Diyala province.

Map of Diyala province, Iraq

Suspected ISIL (ISIS) gunmen have attacked an Iraqi army barracks in Diyala province, killing 11 soldiers as they slept, according to reports citing Iraqi security officials.

The sources said the attack took place early on Friday in the al-Azim district, a mountainous area more than 120km (75 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the circumstances of the attack were not clear, but two officials who spoke to The Associated Press news agency said the ISIL fighters broke into the barracks at 3am local time (00:00 GMT) and shot dead the soldiers before fleeing.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to issue official statements.

The sources said army reinforcements were sent to the village where Friday’s attack occurred, and security forces deployed in surrounding areas.

The brazen attack was one of the deadliest targeting the Iraqi military in recent months.

ISIL took a large swath of land in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Following a series of bloody offensives against it, the armed group lost its territorial control and was effectively defeated in 2017 – although it remains active through sleeper cells in many areas.

Members of the group still conduct operations, often targeting security forces, power stations and other infrastructure.

Last month, an ISIL attack on a village in northern Iraq killed at least 10 people, including seven members of the Kurdish security forces known as the Peshmerga.

In October 2021, ISIL fighters armed with machineguns raided a predominantly Shia village in Diyala province, killing 11 civilians and wounding several others.

Officials at the time said the attack occurred after the fighters had kidnapped villagers and their demands for ransom were not met.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies