Iraqi forces have launched a security operation Saturday (July 14th) to purge Upper Euphrates areas of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) pockets.
Dubbed "Usood al-Jazeera" (Island Lions), the operation aims to search for the group's remnants in areas that extend from the Haditha-Baiji highway all the way to the Syrian border that passes through Anbar and Ninawa.
Large units from the al-Jazeera Operations Command, the army’s 8th Division, Emergency units and tribesmen, supported by international coalition aircraft, are taking part in the operation, al-Qaim mayor Ahmed al-Dulaimi told Diyaruna Wednesday (July 18th).
The operation has so far resulted in the uncovering of a former ISIS camp containing caravans, which was fully destroyed, he said.
"Our forces continue to search that area for enemy strongholds and to hunt down its remnants."
The operation is part of the effort to protect the border with Syria, where Iraqi forces have enhanced security to prevent ISIS elements from infiltrating Iraqi territory.
Surveillance and reconnaissance patrols have been stepped up along the border strip.
"A great effort is being made to secure the country’s western borders and desert areas," said al-Dulaimi.
Regarding the security situation in al-Qaim, al-Dulaimi said the conditions are now stable and "everything is under control".
Security stability and improved services have facilitated the return of more displaced families, he said, noting that 23 families returned to the city this week.
"The voluntary return of displaced families is steadily increasing as thousands of displaced people have returned from camps and shelters in Ramadi, Fallujah and Habbaniya in the past few months," he said.