Iraq Launches Operation “Black Dust” Against ISIS Sleeper Cells


The operation conducted by the Counter-Terrorism Forces was aimed at eliminating the remaining ISIS cells and carrying out operations to arrest leaders of the group.

To continue its victory over ISIS, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in coordination with the International Coalition have launched operation “Black Dust” on the island of Kan’ous, which lies in Nineveh Province, near the border with Salahuddin Province.

According to the commander of Joint Operations Command, general Yahia Rasoul, Kanous Island was a strategic base for the militant group, as it allowed them to hide in its dense vegetation as well as access many provinces through the Tigris River. The recent operation, which was conducted based on intelligence collected by Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), led by Major General Abdul Wahab al-Sa’edi, resulted in dozens of ISIS hideouts being destroyed and the complete loss of ISIS control over the island. According to a video that was later released, the “ISIS infested island” was targeted by 37 raids during the early hours of Tuesday 10th September.

Iraq’s CTS also announced that they had ambushed an ISIS hideout in north-eastern Salahuddin Province late on Monday, which resulted in the killing of 15 ISIS militants, and the arrest of 9 ISIS leaders. The CTS said that this operation allowed the forces to find and seize massive amounts of documents and intelligence on ISIS’ supply lines, sleeper cells, funding sources, and scheduled operations. Field commanders say that this intel will seriously impair the militant group from carrying out activities in different parts of the country.

Since the defeat of ISIS in December 2017, the ISF has carried out multiple operations to hunt down ISIS sleeper cells that managed to hide. As a result, the ISF launched the “Will of Victory” operations, which according to field commanders, resulted in the destruction of many ISIS tunnels and hideouts in the liberated provinces of Nineveh, Salahuddin, and Anbar, as well as Kirkuk and Diyala.

With many security experts saying that ISIS influence is dwindling in the country, especially following the capture of many of the militant group’s leaders and chief suppliers, the security apparatuses say that the war against the militant group is no longer a military one, but one based on intelligence and local cooperation.