Iraqi forces on June 9th carried out a large-scale operation in the south of al-Sharqat district in northern Salaheddine province, in search of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) hideouts, district governor Ali Dawdah told Diyaruna on Monday.
The search spanned the areas of Makhoul mountain, al-Khanouka mountain, al-Naml mountain, Imam Askar Island and Qasr al-Bint mountain.
Large military units from the Salaheddine Operations Command, the army, al-Sharqat police and tribal forces took part in the one-day operation, he said.
Security forces found 15 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mostly in the mountains of al-Khanouka and al-Naml, he said, as well as an ISIS rest house in the Qasr al-Bint area.
The operation is part of a "pre-emptive security mission" to remove any terrorist threats, especially from the villages near the mountain highlands, which stretch over large areas and include natural tunnels, Dawdah said.
Among these villages is the village of Lower Sudaira, opposite al-Naml mountain, where a terror attack claimed the lives of dozens of residents in April.
Security forces and local residents often repel attacks on the village by ISIS elements, Dawdah said.
A joint force of policemen and tribesmen on Sunday destroyed two boats used by militants to cross the Tigris River and attack the village.
Increased security measures in Ramadan
These search missions are also part of "stepped-up measures" by the security forces over the past week, Dawdah said.
"We received intelligence about the intention of terrorists to carry out attacks in the district [al-Sharqat] in the last 10 days of Ramadan, which also coincides with the anniversary of ISIS’s invasion of Iraqi provinces [on June 10th, 2014]," he said.
"Our forces are currently in a state of high alert and everyone is ready," he added.
Motorbikes have been banned till after Eid al-Fitr, he said, and checkpoints and surveillance posts have been beefed up.
Residents have been advised to immediately report any suspicious activity to the following hotline numbers: 07724085866, 07714128887, 07704199453, and 07706612012.
"The situation in al-Sharqat is very secure," Dawdah said. "As for the mountains and valleys around the city, search operations and raids continue to find any terrorist cells."
About 400 local policemen, emergency brigades, forces from the Salaheddine Operations Command, the army’s 91st Brigade, and the 51st Brigade, which includes local fighters, are all taking part in security operations in the district.