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Five Italian soldiers injured in Kirkuk roadside blast while training Iraqi forces to fight ISIS

Five Italian soldiers were wounded in a roadside blast in Kirkuk on Sunday morning while conducting a counter-Islamic State training operation for Iraqi troops.

An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated as an armored vehicle containing personnel from a range of military regiments passed by. The five wounded soldiers were immediately evacuated and airlifted to the American hospital in Baghdad, according to Italian media outlet la Repubblica.

In an interview with state channel Rai News, Italian Gen. Nicola Lanza de Cristoforis reported that one soldier lost a leg to amputation, another suffered serious internal injuries, and one more suffered a severe foot injury. Rai News later reported that a second soldier underwent an amputation.

Both outlets have reported that all five soldiers are now in a stable condition.

According to a statement from Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, the soldiers had been training Iraqi security forces “engaged in the fight against ISIS.” Italian forces regularly participate in international efforts to train the Iraqi security forces tasked with preventing a resurgence of the militant group in Iraq.

Local, regional, and international military bodies including the Pentagon have issued warnings about the potential for an ISIS resurgence, with a recent report by the Inspector General of the Combined Joint Task Force stating, “…the lack of coordination between the various Iraqi security forces – which compete for resources and superiority – creates a “permissive environment” for ISIS activities and resurgence.”

Though ISIS no longer holds territory in Iraq, the group maintains sleeper cells in northern and western regions of the country. They have continued to use insurgency tactics that include car bombs, ambushes, and kidnapping civilians and government officials.

ISIS has been most active in regions including Kirkuk which are claimed by both the central Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government in Erbil. The ongoing dispute has resulted in a security vacuum in contested areas, which ISIS has been able to exploit to deadly effect. Source