Iraqi forces have been successfully carrying out pre-emptive security operations to eliminate "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) hideouts in the desert surrounding Heet city in Anbar province, Heet's governor Muhannad al-Obeidi said Friday (March 2nd).
"The desert is no longer a safe place for the terrorists who were defeated in the liberation battles," he told Diyaruna.
Joint forces from the Al-Jazeera Operations Command and the army's 7th Division, alongside tribesmen, are combing desert areas day and night with air cover from the Iraqi air force and international coalition aircraft, he said.
"Over the last three days, they have been able of carrying out several successful pre-emptive operations that helped thwart terrorist plots to attack the city," he said.
One of the main successes was "the destruction of a massive ISIS hideout deep into the desert, 10 kilometres from the town of Kabisa [south-west of Heet]", he said.
The hideout contained "100 explosive belts, 175 explosive devices and a landmine ready for detonation, as well as weapons, equipment and logistical supplies for the terrorists", al-Obeidi said.
This coincided with another successful operation carried out by a force from the Military Intelligence Directorate with support from fighters from the Albu Nimr tribe and other tribes in the area of Wadi Suwaib in north-eastern Heet, he said.
The fighters on February 26th moved on a hideout in the desert that sheltered three gunmen who were planning terror attacks, al-Obeidi said.
Iraqi forces killed the gunmen and seized their equipment and weapons, he said.
Four tunnels and 44 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were also destroyed in the operation.
Heet security 'stable for months'
Al-Obeidi attributed these successes to the support from residents, "who are now providing security forces with immediate information on any situation that raises their suspicion".
Confessions extracted from captured sleeper cell elements also have helped track down and arrest other extremists and destroy their weapons, he said.
Iraqi forces are deployed throughout Heet and its outskirts and the desert surrounding the city, he said.
"The security situation has been stable for several months as a result of our forces' vigilance and active efforts to track down and eliminate ISIS burrows," he said.