Iraqi security forces, supported by pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have started an operation to clear remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from villages near the country’s oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk.
The Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, in a statement released on Sunday, announced that the counter-terrorism offensive was mounted “upon accurate intelligence reports to purge villages in the Riyadh district, southwest of Kirkuk, from Daesh militants.”
The statement added that members of the federal police, backed by Iraqi Air Force fighter jets and fighters from the 2nd, 11th, 16th and 41st brigades of volunteer forces, better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, are taking part in the operation.
“Intelligence reports indicate that many Daesh militants are hiding in villages in the Riyadh district, and they are planning to carry out terrorist attacks there,” the statement pointed out.
Kirkuk officials have frequently demanded reinforcements in the southern and western parts of the province, where Daesh remnants have taken refuge following the liberation of Hawija district, located 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk.
On December 9, 2017, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against the Daesh terrorist group in the Arab country.
On July 10, Abadi 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.