Iraqi forces have arrested nine members of an "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) sleeper cell in Sulaimaniya province, Iraq's military spokesman Yahya Rasul said in a statement Tuesday (September 29th).
The Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), in co-ordination with the Sulaimaniya counter-terrorism unit, arrested the militants, who belong to the group's "Wilayat Iraq - Southern Sector", he said.
"The detainees had warrants issued for their arrest according to the provisions of article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law," he added.
The operation is the latest in a series of special operations by the CTS this month that have so far led to the arrest of 26 ISIS elements.
The arrests Tuesday represent an "important achievement and send a reassuring message" to the Iraqi people that their security forces are vigilant, said retired Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Kanani, a former CTS official.
The operation "reflects the advanced intelligence work of the CTS and the rest of the security services", he told Diyaruna.
Since it was defeated three years ago, ISIS has tried to establish sleeper cells inside cities as part of a long-term strategy to threaten security, al-Kanani said. The group also relies on remnants who fled the fighting and found refuge in areas with lax security.
But as a result of the intense security crackdown, the group's network of cells are beginning to disintegrate, he said.
The operation in Sulaimaniya also was the result of co-ordination between the federal government and the Kurdish region. The two sides have increased their co-ordination in recent months, and established four joint centres to counter ISIS activity in areas separating the two sides.
"Co-operation and exchange of intelligence is necessary in order to keep up the pressure on the terrorists and prevent them from regrouping," al-Kanani said.