Iraqi forces on Thursday (October 24th) kicked off a security operation to target "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants hiding in orchards in Diyala province.
Launched from three directions, the operation includes several units from the Diyala police and the Iraqi army’s 5th Division, in addition to security and intelligence services.
It covers orchards and farming land over an area of one square kilometre in the villages of Abu Khanazeer, Abdul Hamid, Kasiba, Abu Karma, al-Mukhaisa and Budaja in al-Waqf basin, 30 kilometres north-east of Baquba.
"The operation is part of a security plan we launched one week ago, which includes a series of tough measures to eliminate terror remnants and destroy their secret hideouts in orchard areas," said Diyala police media director Col. Nihad Mohammed Hassan.
The operation was preceded by the deployment of units from the 9th Diyala Emergency Regiment and the 5th Infantry Division in and around the farming villages, he told Diyaruna.
Checkpoints and barricades have been erected "to provide maximum possible protection to the population from any surprise attacks or infiltrations by the enemy", he said.
Iraqi forces on Thursday destroyed five ISIS rest-houses that contained weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), food, clothing and blankets, Hassan said.
The operation is expected to continue over several stages to reach large agricultural areas located on the banks of the Diyala river on the outskirts of Abu Saida sub-district.
Diyala police fight lawlessness
Meanwhile, reports of murders circulated Thursday in Abu Saida in the district of al-Muqdadiya.
"Abu Saida director Harith al-Rubaie was killed yesterday morning by a close associate of his," Hassan said.
"After the incident, reprisals led to the killing of several people including the head of the sub-district’s municipal council, Saad Saryawi, his son and one of their bodyguards," he said.
There also have been reports that Col. Mohammed al-Humeiri, the sub-district's citizenship director, has been killed, but Hassan confirmed that al-Humeiri "was wounded in an armed attack and taken to hospital, and is currently in good condition".
The police command is "looking into these incidents and has immediately set up an investigative committee to determine their circumstances", he said, noting that preliminary results indicate they were the result of criminal incidents, unrelated to terrorism.
"Our investigation continues in order to uncover all the details, and we will announce the full results in the next two days," he added.
The Diyala police command "will not allow any lawlessness, violation of the law or disturbance of the stable security situation in the province", he stressed.
A curfew was imposed in Abu Saida and throughout al-Muqdadiya district to search for the perpetrators, Hassan said, urging the residents to shun rumours and fake news that do not come from official sources.