Iraqi elite forces have killed dozens of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) militants in a security operation targeting their Ninawa province hideouts, Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said Sunday (December 13th).
Following an intelligence-gathering operation, CTS fighters took part in Operation Sweeping Torrent, a raid targeting ISIS hideouts in the area of Ein al-Jahsh, south of Mosul, CTS said in a statement.
During two days of clashes between ISIS elements and CTS forces, the elite force pushed the extremist elements back into the caves and tunnels where they had been holed up, and then stormed their hideouts.
The group's "Tigris sector" commander was among the 42 ISIS elements killed in the operation -- the largest number killed since ISIS's defeat three years ago.
The operation was carried out with the support of international coalition aircraft.
Ground forces found weapons and ammunition, and huge sums of local and foreign currency hidden in the caves and tunnels, the CTS statement said.
The operation targeted ISIS remnants "in their own home", intelligence expert Fadel Abu Ragheef told Diyaruna on Monday.
The extremists killed in Operation Sweeping Torrent had "infiltrated the border with Syria into western Ninawa province", he said, and had been "in contact with former ISIS leaders".
They had been trying to revive their formations and operations, he said, "but they were eliminated, with the right timing, and their plans were thwarted".
Abu Ragheef noted the contribution the intelligence activity of the Ministry of Interior-affiliated Hawks Cell made to the operation's success.
Over the last seven months, he said, information provided by the cell has helped the security forces "kill and arrest around 11,000 terrorists around the country".
Among them were "30 suicide bombers who were killed or blew themselves up when they were engaged, in addition to the destruction of 20 large ISIS bases", he said.
ISIS leaders nabbed in Baghdad
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior on Sunday unveiled an important intelligence operation: the arrest of two senior ISIS leaders, known as "Abu Hatim" and "Abu Enad", in Baghdad's al-Jihad neighbourhood, he said.
Both men worked in the so-called Abu Laith al-Ansari detachments, he said.
The two have confessed to participating in executions carried out at al-Jumhouri hospital in the Mosul city centre while ISIS was in control of Ninawa, he said.
The arrests "took place at an earlier date, but were kept secret until the interrogation of the terrorists was completed and sufficient information was obtained about their crimes", Abu Ragheef said.
The two extremists had been in Baghdad to co-ordinate the opening of ISIS rest-houses on the outskirts of provinces, especially in areas between Kirkuk, Salaheddine and Diyala, he said.
They were intending to nominate leaders to run terrorist operations, he said, but instead they fell into the security forces' hands.