Iraqi forces launch search operation for ISIS remnants in al-Hawijah
By Khalid al-Taie
Iraqi forces launched a combing operation Thursday (December 12th) in the al-Hawijah district of Kirkuk province.
Units from the Federal Police's 3rd and 5th divisions, intelligence services and mechanized infantry, in addition to al-Hawijah tribal fighters, are participating in the operation.
Drones were also deployed to help in reconnaissance missions.
Iraqi forces have so far been able to clear a large number of villages and areas, most prominently al-Awfiyat, al-Arisha al-Ulya, Hawr al-Sufun, al-Lisan, Tal Khadija, Sateeh, al-Fakhira, al-Sallab, al-Burghuliya, al-Zalahija, Wadi al-Sahl and Wadi al-Kour.
During the search, five hideouts of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements, 19 IEDs and 27 RPGs were found.
Engineers destroyed all of the hideouts and explosives.
The current search operation is a continuation of phase 7 of the "Will of Victory" security campaign, which was launched on December 8th, al-Hawijah tribal forces security and intelligence chief, Hassan al-Soufi, told Diyaruna.
Security forces, with the help of local fighters, conducted separate inspection duties concurrently with the Will of Victory campaign, he said.
They covered several areas on the outskirts of Kirkuk province, in the districts of Riyadh, al-Zab and al-Rashad in al-Hawijah, Daqouq and the al-Ghurra mountain chain, he added.
The operation led to the discovery and destruction of at least 100 IEDs, he said.
The goal of the new operation is to "comb remote villages, agricultural lands, tributaries and hills near the villages to ensure that they are clear of ISIS remnants and hideouts", al-Soufi said.
"Our efforts are focused on pre-emptive action against any terrorist activity and on thwarting their attempts to settle down, find safe havens and re-organise their cells," he said.
"The terrorist remnants are disintegrated and are constantly declining in number thanks to the military operations," he added.
On November 12th, al-Hawijah tribal forces in collaboration with army forces killed "a dangerous ISIS leader by the name of Yousuf Hashim Moulan al-Batoushi, who was hiding in a tunnel east of al-Hawijah with two of his dangerous companions, also killed in the attack", al-Soufi said.
Four days later, the Federal Police and tribal fighters also killed four ISIS members who were hiding near the area of Maktab Khalid, south of Kirkuk.
A total of five ISIS terrorists wanted for trial have been arrested since the beginning of November, according to al-Soufi.