Iraqi forces target ISIS cells in Atshana mountains
By Khalid al-Taie
Twenty "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants have been killed in an airstrike in the Atshana mountain range northwest of the city of Mosul, the Ninawa Operations Command announced Monday (July 9th).
The command has been conducting since Saturday a security campaign against ISIS cells in the area, command media director Brig. Gen. Firas Bashar Sabri told Diyaruna.
The campaign is conducted in co-operation with three military divisions and with aerial support from Iraqi army and international coalition aircraft, he said.
"We have found 30 tunnels and a hideout that belongs to the ISIS gangs that contained food supplies, sleeping beds and other basic necessities," he said, noting that they were all destroyed in the campaign.
An airstrike on one of tunnels in the area of Badoush killed 20 ISIS elements who were gathering at the site, Sabri said.
"The campaign continues based on accurate intelligence provided by our sources, as well as citizens," he said.
"We are relentlessly pursuing the terrorist remnants wherever they may hide," he said. "We will reach them and eliminate them in the mountains or deserts and in any remote and rugged area."
ISIS remnants 'aim to receive media coverage'
The security campaign in the Atshana mountain range coincides with the "Vengeance for the Martyrs" operation currently underway to eradicate ISIS pockets in the Hamreen hills and areas east of the Diyala-Kirkuk highway.
Large military units are taking part in the operation, which was launched on July 4th.
Sabri said they have successfully targeted several ISIS hideouts, and killed and arrested dozens of the group's elements and other suspects.
"The remaining ISIS terrorists no longer have any power. They are only small groups on the run who carry out criminal operations against innocent, defenceless people with the aim of achieving media coverage and spreading panic among the people," he said.
They are are using hit-and-run tactics, Sabri said, "the method of choice of cowardly gangs".
In addition to military campaigns, Iraqi forces are tackling the group's "desperate attempts to intimidate people with their terrorist activity and fabricated lies", he said.
"We have a psychological operations unit that works to counter rumours and the psychological effects of terrorism [on people] by conveying messages of reassurance and support to the local population," he said.