Conflict

Iraqi forces clamp down on ISIS cells in west of Mosul

Iraq

Following the success of recent operations to destroy ISIS sleeper cells in villages west of Mosul, residents of the city are finally feeling safer than they had done in previous months.

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have launched a wide-spread security operation to clamp down on remaining ISIS sleeper cells in west Mosul, as part of operations to hunt down remnant ISIS militants in liberated areas. According to locals, ISIS militants have attempted to regain control of the areas that they have lost by exploiting security vacuums.

This has prompted the citizens to call on the security forces, who launched an operation coordinated by the Nineveh Operations Command, on what is known as Mosul’s “Western Triangle”. This is an area between Mosul and the nearby mountainous and desert region to the west of the city. The operation, which seeks to attack sleeper cells on three fronts, included thorough searches of homes suspected to house the militants.

“The 16th and the 20th Infantry Divisions were tasked with carrying out inspection operations along with meetings with some citizens,” said a major general in the Nineveh Operations Command. “We met with the citizens to understand the problems they suffer. We also distributed the security forces’ hotline so that citizens can call in [to report suspicious activity].”

According to the major general, in addition to the ground forces tasked with finding and dismantling sleeper cells, the ISF has also employed air units, equipped with thermal cameras, to monitor the area for militant movement.

Citizens have claimed that these operations have made them feel much safer, and it has significantly reduced their fear of ISIS’ return.

“The security forces always come and check on us,” said a citizen of west Mosul. “Frankly, this area has become safe since sleeper cells were destroyed. Since then, we have not seen any problems.”

Since the military defeat of ISIS in December 2017 in Iraq, the militant group’s sleeper cells have attempted to carry out operations to hurt citizens. However, this activity was quickly met with the ISF launching multiple operations throughout the different Iraqi provinces aimed at clearing ISIS hideouts and cells.

While the battle against sleeper cells will take more time to complete, the ISF have shown their ability to chase and dismantle ISIS cells in the country persistently.