Iraqi forces clamp down on ISIS in 3 provinces

By Khalid al-Taie


Iraqi soldiers comb areas separating the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala and Salaheddine for ISIS remnants and hideouts on September 24th. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Joint Iraqi forces launched on Thursday (September 24th) a new operation to target "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants in one of the group's most dangerous sanctuaries in the area separating Kirkuk, Diyala and Salaheddine provinces.

Units from the forward base in Kirkuk and the Diyala and Salaheddine operations commands are sweeping the territory separating the military commands' sectors of responsibilities, Iraqi Ministry of Defence spokesman Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji told Diyaruna Friday.

This is the latest in a series of operations aimed at "ending the enemy remnants' presence" in that territory, he said.

The triangle includes Hamreen Hills and Wadi al-Shay, as well as farming towns with abundant orchards, such as al-Azim and al-Mutaybija.

ISIS remnants are still using these areas as a sanctuary due to the difficulty to spot them from the air, he said, adding that these areas are abundant with vegetation, river islands and caves.

The militants have recently become bolder after they were joined by small units of terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq from Syria, he said. The infiltrators have taken advantage of gaps on the border, especially on the Syrian side near al-Hol camp.

The Joint Operations Command has stepped up its military and intelligence efforts in those areas by conducting combing and reconnaissance campaigns and landing operations, he added.

Al-Khafaji said the new security operation has so far resulted in the death of several terrorists and the destruction of more than 24 hideouts and a large minefield. Various weapons also have been confiscated.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces continue to surround Kanous Island in al-Sharqat, northern Salaheddine, since September 19th, he said.

"We have been able to manoeuvre, overcome the water barrier and destroy the enemy's main base on the island" with army and international coalition aircraft support, he said.

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