Iraqi government forces, backed by allied voluntary fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have mounted a large-scale offensive in the central part of the war-ravaged Arab country to hunt down the remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
The media bureau of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement on Wednesday that army, federal police, special forces, Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had launched “a vast operation to clear out the region east of the Diyala-Kirkuk” highway.
The statement added that the operation, dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs,” is backed by Iraqi Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
Iraqi government forces and their allies cleared large part of the area during the early hours of the offensives, destroying nine militant hideouts and a car rigged with explosives.
One Daesh terrorist was killed and nine suspects were captured as well. Iraqi troops also discovered a Daesh medical center and a base for training extremist militants, the JOC noted.
Separately, Hashd al-Sha’abi said in a statement that members of the Interior Ministry’s elite rapid response force had arrived at the defensive lines of Peshmerga forces after clearing five villages near Hamrin mountain range from Daesh Takfiris.
The troops found eight explosive belts, defused 21 roadside bombs and destroyed eight terrorist hideouts.
On June 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, pledged to hunt down Daesh militants across Iraq after recent attacks and abductions carried out by the terrorist group.
“We will chase the remaining cells of terrorism in their hideouts and we will kill them, we will chase them everywhere, in the mountains and the desert,” Abadi said.
Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, the Iraqi prime minister had formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.
In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.
Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.