The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have renewed military operations south of the city of Fallujah in Anbar Province, with the aim of destroying the last remaining ISIS hideouts and safe havens.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have conducted a preemptive operation on ISIS sleeper cells hiding south of Fallujah in Anbar Province. According to officials within the ISF, the operation, which targeted small islands scattered across the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, was able to end the presence and destroy their weapons arsenals.
“Today, the commander of Anbar ordered the inspection of the central strip in the Euphrates River facing the Bahwa area,” said a general participating in the operations. “The attacking forces included the Anbar Operations Command, the Commandos, the Army’s Fourth Battalion, the Amiriyah Brigade, the River Police, and the Army’s Air Force.”
Officials say that the sleeper cells that have been targeted by this operation have created a challenge for the security forces because they have been using the agricultural landscape of the area to hide and plan attacks on nearby cities and provinces.
However, since the operation utilised several security apparatuses, the ground forces were able to discover the hideouts and call in attacks from the air force planes overhead, and the military gunboats roaming the river.
“Sites for ISIS militants were found in these places and were bombed by the Iraqi Army Air Force to end the presence of ISIS in this area,” said an official from Fallujah.
Following the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, the ISF has launched dozens of operations against ISIS sleeper cells remaining throughout the country. In a bid to remove their threat to civilians altogether, locals are urged to help the security forces locate and eliminate ISIS sleeper cells, who have carried out acts of violence and looting against the local population. The operations further intensified in March of this year after the militant group was defeated in Syria, and officials warned of potential infiltrations by ISIS members retreating from the neighbouring country into Iraq.
As the operations continue, with the support of locals, Iraq hopes to eliminate all sleeper cells throughout the country that have continued to harm civilians despite the collapse of ISIS’ so-called Caliphate.