Airborne Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) units have destroyed 10 secret "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) sites in Hatra Island in southern Ninawa province, an official told Diyaruna Monday (June 24th).
The destruction of the sites, which included caves, tunnels and rest-houses, led to the death of a number of ISIS remnants over the past two days.
The CTS units, which report to the 2nd Special Operations Command, carried out landing operations -- dubbed "Burning Flame" -- with the support of Iraqi army helicopters and international coalition warplanes.
The landings targeted ISIS hideouts deep inside Hatra Island, Hatra district mayor Basman Ahmed Sultan al-Ahmadi told Diyaruna.
The operations were characterised by "secrecy and accuracy in tracking down ISIS remnants and hitting them at the right time", he said.
CTS forces set fire to the militants’ logistical supplies found at the sites, he said, adding that the forces also "cut off their supply line that stretched from the island towards the town of Baiji in Salaheddine province".
The operations also included heavy coalition airstrikes on eight other ISIS targets in the island, said al-Ahmadi.
CTS conducts pre-emptive attacks
"The centre of the district has been experiencing for quite some time stability and security thanks to the military deployment and the ongoing search campaigns for [ISIS] remnants," he said.
These recent operations are part of a series of pre-emptive activities led by the CTS in order to thwart ISIS remnants’ efforts to resume their attacks against innocent people, al-Ahmadi said.
According to intelligence reports, there are few ISIS remnants in Hatra Island, said al-Ahmadi, and they are "experiencing difficulties in remaining safe and concealing their sites from aerial surveillance".
"Any area in Hatra Island that has already been subjected to a search and comb operation is one that the terrorists do not risk returning to again," he said. "Most of what scares them [the terrorists] are these sudden, quality landings by elite forces, as well as coalition airstrikes."
Al-Ahmadi expressed hope that the plan to arm the residents of remote villages in Hatra district will help to completely eliminate ISIS remnants.
"There has been no action in this regard to-date," he pointed out, "but if the plan is implemented, it will definitely have a positive impact on the security of these villages."