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Losing ground in north, IS targets Iraq's Shiite south

As the Islamic State is attacked from all sides in Mosul, it is making a last ditch effort to disrupt military operations by carrying out attacks in Iraq's predominately Shiite province of Najaf.
Iraqi security forces stand next to burnt car at the site of an attack on a police checkpoint, near the town of Qadisiyah, 40km south of the Iraqi holy Shiite city of Najaf on January 1, 2017.
Gunmen wearing suicide vests and driving an explosives-laden vehicle opened fire on the checkpoint near the town of Qadisiyah, which lies around 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of Baghdad. / AFP / Haidar HAMDANI        (Photo credit should read HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD — Following the recent terrorist attacks in the predominately Shiite province of Najaf, Governor of Najaf Luay al-Yassiri and the deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, announced Jan. 15 the formation of two regiments of the PMU to control the desert of Najaf and protect the holy city of Najaf from Islamic State (IS) terrorists. Yassiri also said the province is to build a 50-kilometer (31-mile) tunnel on the western side of the city to protect it from terrorists.

After its major losses in Mosul, IS has been seeking to move its operations to the predominantly Shiite center and southern Iraq. To IS, Shiites are its bitter enemy. On Jan. 1, IS carried out an attack in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, which is home to many Shiite authorities. The militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, stressing that it was carried out by five suicide bombers. On Jan. 8, the security apparatus seized a car bomb in the Shiite-majority governorate of Wasit.

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