TIKRIT, Iraq, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) — Iraqi security forces on Monday launched an operation to push out Islamic State (IS) militants from a rugged area along the border between the central provinces of Salahudin and Diyala, a security source said.

The security forces and allied paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units attacked from three directions of Mteibijah area, some 100 km southeast of Salahudin's provincial capital of Tikrit, the police chief of Salahudin province, Maj. Gen. Dhamin Hameed al-Jubouri, told Xinhua.

The troops, backed by warplanes and helicopters, recaptured a village west of Mteibijah, and destroyed many IS positions, leaving at least six IS militants killed, Jubouri said.

The operation in Mteibijah was designed to take control of the whole area, where dozens of IS militants were still hiding, to prevent them from attacking civilian and military targets in Salahudin and Diyala provinces, Jubouri said.

Meanwhile, a helicopter gunship attacked an IS convoy in Mteibijah, killing at least six militants and destroying five vehicles, one with heavy machine gun.

The predominately Sunni Arab province of Salahudin has been the scene of a major offensive by Iraqi security forces and allied Hashd Shaabi units, which managed to retake control of the province from the hands of IS militants who seized large part of it in June 2014.