"Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements are surrendering to Iraqi forces in unprecedented numbers in Diyala province after the crushing blow the group received in Mosul, an Iraqi military commander said Monday (July 17th).
"Seventeen ISIS elements wanted according to article 4 of the anti-terrorism law have voluntarily surrendered to our forces in Hawdh al-Waqf, north of Diyala's provincial capital of Baqubah," said Tigris Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Muzhir al-Azzawi.
The command is questioning the elements on their role within the terrorist group, he told Diyaruna, and will guarantee them a fair trial in implementation of the orders and directives of the General Commander of the Armed Forces Haider al-Abbadi.
Al-Azzawi said his command has information on the desire of additional ISIS elements to surrender, adding that he expects "the numbers to increase in the coming period".
Divisions plague ISIS
He attributed the unprecedented number of surrenders in Diyala to the group's recent loss of Mosul and the killing of many of its leaders and escape of the rest.
"There are strong divisions among ISIS elements and leaders in Diyala following their bitter defeat [in Mosul] and the series of setbacks they have been suffering at the hands of our forces in the province," he said.
"Senior ISIS leaders who are positioned in al-Hawijah summoned a few days ago four of the group's leaders from Diyala and executed them," al-Azzawi said.
"According to intelligence available to us, the executions were carried out after those leaders were accused of abject failure in completing their tasks," he added.
Iraqi forces foil plot
"We have tightened the noose on ISIS and succeeded in thwarting the largest terrorist attack of its kind that they were planning to carry out last Ramadan," he said.
Security raids on secret ISIS hideouts in Diyala led to the killing of 17 suicide bombers who were planning to detonate themselves among civilians at markets and public places, he said.
"After that operation, we killed 30 terrorists hiding in orchards in al-Makhisa area, north of Diyala, with support from international coalition fighter jets that targeted vital terrorist targets," he said.