At least three Iraqi security personnel were killed Thursday when Daesh terrorists attacked two villages in the predominantly-Turkmen Tuz Khurmatu district in Saladin province north of Baghdad, according to a local official.
"Two Peshmerga and one Hashd al-Shaabi fighters were killed in the attacks," Saladin provincial council member Mahi Taki told Anadolu Agency.
Formally incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces last year, the Hashd al-Shaabi is composed largely of pro-government Shia fighters.
According to Taki, Daesh is trying to reassert itself in Saladin following a string of recent defeats in the northern city of Mosul, capital of Iraq's northern Nineveh province.
Shellal Abdul, district governor of Tuz Khurmatu, said Daesh militants had attacked the villages of Zerge and Zinjili before being repelled by Peshmerga and Hashd al-Shaabi forces.
"Scores of militants were killed in clashes that lasted several hours while at least 34 security personnel were injured in the fighting," Abdul said.
Iraqi forces, aided by U.S.-led coalition air power, are currently engaged in a wide-ranging operation -- launched last October -- aimed at capturing Mosul, Daesh's last stronghold in northern Iraq.