The Iraqi Joint Operations Command, the most prominent fighting formation within the Iraqi Army, have entered the second phase of the operations aimed at clearing the final remnants of ISIS.
ISIS militants in Iraq are now primarily located in parts of the provinces of Anbar, Nineveh and Saladin. They are predominantly stationed in difficult-to-reach desert areas. These areas are also mostly situated along the border with Syria.
The operations, although predominantly led by the Joint Operations Command, also involves the Federal Police and support from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).
Advancing from the north are the 40th and 43rd Brigades of the PMU (Kata’ib Imam Ali and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, respectively). From the Northeast, the 9th and 33rd Brigade of the PMU will advance (Liwa Karbala and Quwat Wa’ad Allah, respectively). The 26th Brigade of the PMU (Al Abbas Fighting Division) will advance from the southeast. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army’s 9 th Division, with the support of the 11th, 15th and 44th Brigades of the PMU (Liwa Ali al-Akbar, Quwat Shabaab al-Sadr and Liwa Ansar al-Marjaiya, respectively) will begin the operations from three different points on the wider eastern axis and will be supported by a local PMU group from Baiji led by Sheikh Ali Hajab Qisi. The Federal Police’s 3rd Brigade will also be participating in the operations in a more supporting role.
These operations are being carried out as a counter-insurgency effort rather than a standard military campaign, as a result of the nature of the terrain and the absence of any urban settlement. The last urban settlement that was subject to ISIS rule and has been taken is Rawa, in Anbar province.
Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has stated that once these clearing operations come to a conclusion, he will officially announces the end of ISIS in the country.