ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Sunday morning, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched large scale operation to hunt down fighters from the so-called Islamic State, Iraq’s Security Media Cell announced.
The military operations come at a time, when the terrorist organization has intensified its hit-and-run attacks in Iraq’s central provinces and even some areas south of Baghdad.
In addition, the Islamic State has renewed its practice of attacking fields during the harvest season—yet one more example of how the self-professed religious group targets the most innocent of civilian activities.
The arson attacks during the harvest season significantly increase the security challenges that the terrorist group poses, as it also implants booby traps after setting fire to the fields, thereby exacerbating the difficulties in fighting the fires.
Sunday’s military operations were launched by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command to track down the Islamic State in a far-reaching swathe of the country, including in the desert of northern Anbar province, southern Nineveh, and western Salahuddin. Iraqi forces also moved against the terrorist group in towns lying on the border between Iraq and Syria, as the Iraqi Security Media Cell reported in a tweeted statement.
The major purpose of the operations is to “enhance security and stability in these areas, pursue the terrorist elements and arrest the wanted,” the statement said.
The Iraqi military, as well as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), with air support from the Iraqi Air Force, were involved in the campaign, it explained.
“The operations have searched more than 150 kilometers along the Iraqi-Syrian border and in Baiji [north of Baghdad],” Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji, spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command, stated.
“Wait for us, the time of the battle is coming,” Prime Minister al-Kadhimi said on Saturday, as he threatened the Islamic State during a visit to PMF headquarters. The operations come as the first of their kind under the premiership of Mustafa al-Kadhimi, since he took office ten days ago.
On Thursday night, the Islamic State launched a new series of attacks, targeting villages and districts in Kirkuk and Salahuddin provinces in northern Iraq; Diyala province in central Iraq; as well as Babil province, south of Baghdad.
Top Kurdistan Region officials and Peshmerga commanders have repeatedly warned the international community, as well as the Iraqi government, that the Islamic State remains active and capable of reasserting itself to resume its campaign of violence and threaten Iraq, as well as countries beyond it.