At least 12 people, including 11 civilians, were killed in attacks by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS militants in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces.
The attacks coincided with sandstorm that has covered the Iraqi provinces for two days which limited visibility, giving chance to ISIS militants to infiltrate and carry out their attacks.
"ISIS targeted and shot at innocent farmers in the village of Sami Aasi in the Taza sub-district of Kirkuk province late last night," the Iraqi security media cell said in a statement.
According to the security media cell, six farmers were killed while harvesting their wheat farms. Three vehicles were burnt in the attack.
"Our security forces have arrived in the area and conducted a search operation... The fate of the terrorists will soon be death or trial," the statement concluded.
The fate of terrorists will soon be death, or trial
The 16th Turkmen Brigade of pro-Iran paramilitary of the Popular Mobilization Forces PMF known as Hashdi Shaabi are stationed in the area along with the federal police.
In the same attack south of Kirkuk, 30 acres of grain land were burnt yet later it was brought under control by the fire brigade.
Sleeper cells and resistant pockets of ISIS militants are regrouping in the rural areas of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil where neither Iraqi security forces of the those of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR are deployed.
They are posing a high threat by different tactics such as hit-and-run attacks, kidnappings, snipers, IED and roadside bombs targeting the Iraqi forces and civilians.
Six people, five of them civilians, were killed and seven injured an attack in Islah village in northern Jaloula sub-district in DIyala province, northeast of Baghdad.
"Four members of a family (a father, two sons and a daughter) were killed in the attack, along with another woman and a soldier," Saif Sattar, a member of the Islah village council, told KirkukNow.
“They first went to a house and shot at them, killing a woman and wounding two others. When the neighbors rushed to help, they killed a man, his two sons and little daughter while the snipers were shooting at the villagers from distance,” said Zaidun Mohammed, a resident of the village and a witness to the incident.
"As villagers, we could not go outside at the beginning of the incident to find out what had happened. Two hours later we went outside and saw six people killed, one of them a soldier, and seven others wounded.”
An Iraqi soldier was killed when Iraqi forces confronted with ISIS militants, Mohammed said.
ISIS took large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Following a series of bloody offensives against it, the armed group lost its territorial control in Iraq and was effectively defeated in 2017, the Iraqi government declared.
However, having changed its strategies, ISIS still poses a threat in several provinces in Iraq, particularly the disputed territories which ranges from Khanaqin northeast of Baghdad on the border with Iran across the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk up to Shingal (Sinar) at the west on the borders with Syria.
Meanwhile, the territorial disputes between Baghdad and Ebril, coupled with a lack of coordination between Kurdish forces and their counterparts in Baghdad, have contributed to a security vacuum that has been increasingly exploited by ISIS.
The Iraqi government has ordered to close public sector departments including schools and universities taking final exams except for health and security services, while airports suspend flights earlier today.
Last week, over 4,000 people were admitted to hospitals needing treatment for respiratory difficulties, said Seif al-Badir, health ministry spokesman, France 24 reported.
It is the ninth dust storm in the last two months to hit Iraq in 2022, which has been battered by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.