Iraqi soldiers on board were on a mission north of Baghdad in an area where the military has carried out repeated operations against suspected sleeper cells of Daesh group.

This file photo taken on January 18, 2021 shows an Iraqi helicopter at a military base near a border crossing with Syria at Al Qaim, Iraq.
This file photo taken on January 18, 2021 shows an Iraqi helicopter at a military base near a border crossing with Syria at Al Qaim, Iraq. (John Davison / Reuters)

At least five Iraqi troops have been killed when their helicopter crashed on a "combat mission" north of Baghdad.

The military confirmed Thursday's incident as one security source told AFP that the helicopter had been hit by ground fire.

The helicopter came down near Amerli in Salaheddin province, the military said, in an area where Iraqi troops have carried out repeated operations against suspected sleeper cells of Daesh group.

Video footage sent to journalists in Baghdad showed firefighters attempting to put out a blaze in the wreckage of the aircraft.

The security forces launched an operation on Tuesday to "search and clear areas in the south of Kirkuk province", which borders Salaheddin, a statement on their Twitter account said.

The security source told AFP that the helicopter that came down was one of two that had been checking pylons carrying high-voltage power lines in the area, a frequent target for holdout terrorists in recent months.

As the two aircraft approached Amerli district, one of them took a "direct hit" which forced it down.

The Daesh group lost its last territory in Iraq in 2017 after a bloody three-year campaign that put paid to its hopes of forging a transnational "caliphate" straddling the border with Syria.

But the terror group retains sleeper cells in desert and mountain areas that they have used as launchpads for attacks in Iraq's cities.

A July 19 suicide bombing claimed by the Sunni extremists killed 30 people in a street market in a Shia district of Baghdad.

Separately, at least two rockets hit Baghdad's fortified Green Zone early on Thursday but caused no casualties, Iraqi security sources said.

One rocket landed in a parking lot inside the Green Zone and a second one hit a nearby empty area, said the sources.

The Green Zone hosts foreign embassies and government buildings and is regularly the target of rockets fired by groups that US and Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran.

On July 26, US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi sealed an agreement on formally ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, but US forces will still operate there in an advisory role.

The agreement comes at a politically delicate time for the Iraqi government and could be a boost for Baghdad. 

Kadhimi has faced increasing pressure from Iran-aligned parties and paramilitary groups who oppose the US military role in the country.

READ MORE: Daesh claims responsibility for twin suicide blasts in Baghdad

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Source: AFP