Tribal forces in Anbar province, with support from the army and international coalition warplanes, killed four senior leaders of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) near al-Baghdadi district at the end of last month.
Fighters from the 3rd brigade of the district's tribal mobilisation forces killed the "emirs" on September 21st, district tribal forces leader and municipal council head Mal Allah al-Obeidi told Diyaruna.
"Two of the leaders were foreign nationals, while the other two were Iraqis who are known to us," he said.
"We were monitoring their movements through our reconnaissance and intelligence sources," he said, adding that they were killed during a meeting they were holding in al-Dulab island near al-Baghdadi.
Targeting high-ranking ISIL commanders
Tribal fighters, with co-ordination and oversight by the security forces and under air cover from the international coalition, were able to "infiltrate deep into the island, reach the target location and kill the four terrorists and seize their weapons", al-Obeidi said.
"The targeted terrorists were prominent ISIL commanders and directly responsible for managing military and financial operations in western Anbar province," he noted.
Their death is a serious blow to ISIL and will "break its back", he said, adding that "the tribal forces have proved, through carrying out this unique mission, that they are able to confront terrorism and target its leaders".
"Our fighters currently enjoy a high level of combat capabilities and their participation [in the battles] has a great impact on helping the security forces achieve victory," he added.
The tribal forces, the army and the police have finished clearing al-Baghdadi island entirely from ISIL, he said.
"We cordoned the area stretching from the town of Barwana to the Euphrates district and Bakr neighbourhood east of al-Baghdadi," he said. "We shut down all passages and destroyed all of ISIL's headquarters and cradles of terrorism."
"We are now in a position of attack and are all excited to end the presence of ISIL in our province," he added.
The operation to kill the four ISIL leaders was conducted "in joint co-ordination between the tribes, the leadership of the island's Operations Command, the 7th army brigade and coalition warplanes", said Joint Military Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul.
"Tribesmen in al-Baghdadi district had prior information about the whereabouts and movements of these leaders," Rasul told Diyaruna.
Iraqi forces sustained no injuries in their ranks, he said.
The participation of tribesmen in the liberation operation of al-Baghdadi island was "outstanding", Rassul added. "Our forces were able to exert control over an estimated area of 35 square kilometres that includes several villages, killed dozens of terrorists, and blew up many improvised explosive devices."
This is not the first time ISIL leaders have been targeted by Iraqi forces, said Rajeh Barakat Aifan, member of Anbar provincial council's security committee.
"But what distinguishes this operation is that it targeted first-row ISIL leaders in western Anbar who are responsible for managing the battles on that front," he told Diyaruna.
The operation has led remaining ISIL fighters in the area to flee to the towns of Anah and Rawah, which are still under group's control, he said.
The tribal forces have proven that their support of the Iraqi security forces is crucial and that "they are full of will and determination to defeat terrorism in their areas", he said.