The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) has stepped up its intelligence operations to track down remnants and cells of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
Since the start of February, Iraqi intelligence services have arrested at least 20 ISIS elements in operations in northern and western Iraq, including in Hammam al-Alil, Makhmour, al-Qayyarah, al-Mutaybija and Barawna, the CTS said Wednesday (February 12th).
Among those arrested was an unnamed ISIS air defence chief, in addition to former fighters and others who provided logistical and information support to the militants and smuggled their families from the Syrian al-Hol camp to Iraq using fake identity papers.
Four elements who made up a terrorist cell in Ramadi also were arrested.
The CTS has recently dismantled two dangerous cells, one in the town of al-Karma in Anbar and the other south of the city of Kirkuk, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told Diyaruna.
Among the cell members was a senior leader, he said, noting that preliminary information indicates that they were intending to carry out terrorist acts in Baghdad and Anbar.
ISIS plans thwarted
"Their plans were thwarted and they were arrested in pre-emptive operations based on a remarkable information effort and in co-ordination with the rest of the intelligence and security agencies," al-Numan said.
"We have strengthened our intelligence operations, and today they are more active than ever and achieving fruitful results by taking down active and sleeper ISIS networks and taking out dangerous terrorists," he said.
ISIS is trying to "regroup and restore its organisational structure, drawing on its remaining leaders and fighters", he said.
The group is focusing on "attempts to entice the population in remote villages and areas to stand by them and support them in order to rebuild their hotbeds there", al-Numan said.
However, "our information confirms that these attempts are failing since the population today is more aware and will not be deceived again by the terrorists who have committed countless massacres and are responsible for their displacement and the destruction of their areas", he added.