Search and clearing operations around Samarra in Salaheddine province have "cut off the terrorist remnants" from the city, Samarra mayor Mahmoud Khalaf told Diyaruna Monday (August 6th).
Recent media reports have claimed that remaining "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements have been trying to find shelter in Samarra Island after they have been pursued out of Anbar's desert.
Since the end of July, Iraqi forces have been conducting "effective security duties" on a daily basis in various areas of Samarra, Khalaf said.
They "target terrorist strongholds in several areas, particularly in the desert of western Samarra, known as the Samarra Island", he said.
The Iraqi army’s air force, in co-ordination with the Samarra Operations Command on August 2nd launched extensive pursuit operations of remaining ISIS elements in southern Samarra, he said.
It led to the elimination of a group of 15 extremists carrying light weapons after they were hunted down and killed with guided missiles and machine guns, he said, adding that their strongholds were also destroyed.
The operation came two days after a large intelligence and military force raided an ISIS stronghold in Samarra Island, killing five suicide bombers and arresting one terrorist.
The suicide bombers were planning to carry out attacks on civilian targets and security headquarters, Khalaf said.
Security forces in the past two weeks have also detonated dozens of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and seized weapons and rockets, in the areas of the al-Line, al-Milh and al-Jazeera.
These operations "send strong messages to the forces of terrorism that their pursuit is continuing and will never stop", Khalaf said.
"We are confident that our forces can end the terrorists’ existence anywhere, and the recent military operations are proof of that," he added.
"The administrative borders of the city [Samarra] and its entrances are secure from all sides," he said, and "all military movements are based on accurate intelligence, hence any attempt to infiltrate and disrupt security will fail".