Security campaign in Diyala's Khanaqin uncovers 3 ISIS rest houses
By Khalid al-Taie
Iraqi forces with air support have been tracking down cells of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in remote areas of northeast Diyala province as part of a large-scale search operation launched on Monday (August 6th).
Joint forces from the Diyala Operations Command, army and local police units, with aerial support from Iraqi warplanes, have launched the operation along two routes, according to a local official.
The first extends from north of the city of Khanaqin towards north of Jalawla, and the second covers areas north of al-Muqdadiya.
These two routes include several villages and dense agricultural groves, as well as rugged terrain containing valleys and caves.
The new campaign is part of a series of security campaigns to eliminate extremists who exploit remote areas of Diyala, especially in the Hamreen hills, to hide from security forces and carry out attacks under the cover of darkness.
The operation has so far led to the destruction of three "rest houses" containing stocks of weapons, equipment and supplies, al-Khanaqin district mayor Mohammed Mullah Hassan told Diyaruna Tuesday (August 7th).
ISIS remnants are located on the outskirts of Khanaqin and try to conduct attacks from time to time, he said.
However, security forces are on the lookout for them and continuously target them, he added.
A number of residents have recently opted to leave the village of Mardan on the outskirts of Khanaqin towards the city centre for fear of terrorist threat, he said, but this number is "limited" and "not as inflated as media reports make it to be".
"The situation is stable and the terrorist remnants are still incapable of serious impact," he added.
"The city, before ISIS emerged and during the group's expansion in Khanaqin’s neighbouring cities such as Jalawla, al-Saadiya and Hamreen, hosted nearly 120,000 internally displaced people [IDPs] from within and outside Diyala province," he said.
After the liberation operations started, the number of IDPs has declined to less than 40,000, according to Mullah Hassan, in a sign of increased security in Diyala and throughout Iraq.