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Seven killed in Baghdad suburb targeting homes of Hashd al-Shaabi tribal fighters

Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary units were a major fighting force against the Islamic State
Members of the "Liwa al-Tafuf" 13th Brigade of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Units) show off their skills during a graduation ceremony at a training centre in the central Iraqi city of Karbala in August 2019 (AFP)

Seven people were killed in three attacks on the outskirts of Baghdad in an area security officials declared free of the Islamic State group. 

The attacks began on Saturday night and targeted the homes of tribal fighters belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force, as well as army barracks, in the Sunni suburb of Tarmiya. 

The Shia-dominated Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Units, which fought against the Islamic State group with Iraqi troops, includes groups of fighters belonging to Sunni tribes.

Tarmiya has long been a bastion of Sunni extremist groups, and Islamic State sleeper cells have continued to operate in the area, according to the security sources. 

Unidentified gunmen attacked the home of a member of a tribal group, killing him, his wife, his son and mother, a police officer told AFP, asking to remain anonymous.

The officer said a separate attack overnight saw sniper fire hit an army barracks, killing two members of the security forces.

At dawn on Sunday, another attack targeted the home of a member of a tribal unit, killing one person, he added. 

On Sunday afternoon, security forces announced they had killed one would-be suicide bomber in a village in the Tarmiya region. 

For weeks this summer, Iraqi forces - the army, police and the tribal mobilisation units - combed the orchards around Tarmiya for IS sleeper cells.

In July, they declared the operation a success after arresting several alleged IS members.

IS overran large parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in areas they controlled.

Iraq in late 2017 declared victory against IS, but the group's disparate network of undercover fighters still carries out deadly attacks across the country.

On Friday, an attack claimed by IS killed 12 people on the edge of Karbala, as the Shia holy city prepares to receive millions of pilgrims next month.