The security forces in the Baghdad countryside are calling on citizens to cooperate in order to clear out ISIS elements from the area.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have launched a major operation on the district of Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, following recent attacks. During the first week of June, ISIS launched an attack on an ISF position in Tarmiyah that led to the death of four members. Following this attack, two others took place the following week in Tarmiyah. As a result of these continued attacks, the Iraqi Government launched an operation to find and dismantle ISIS sleeper cells, and strengthen security there.
The commands said that they would continue their operations until all ISIS presence is defeated.
“Units continue to clear these orchards where there are no roads and movement is limited. Some terrorists use them for limited periods and we are constantly pursuing them,” said Staff Brigadier Alaa Qati’, the commander of the 59th Battalion in the 6th Brigade. “Sometimes, they may be able to impact civilians and kill some of them, but the follow-up of our security forces and the ongoing operations have enabled us to cleanse many areas and eliminate terrorist groups.”
Since the area consists of orchards and farms, the militant group has been able to use the thick vegetation to hide and launch ambushes on nearby security forces.
“The terrorists form sleeper cells, and every cell consists of four or five terrorists,” said an Iraqi Intelligence officer. “They are moving from place to place, taking advantage of the geographical nature of the area.”
In addition to conducting field operations, the Commander of the Baghdad Operations, General Jaleel al-Rubaei’ met with the tribal elders and dignitaries of the area, where he stressed the need for local cooperation so that the militant organisation is defeated.
“We demand that all should cooperate with the security forces,” said a tribal elder from Tarmiyah. “All tribal elders and all residents of these areas will fully cooperate with the security forces.”
In most operations conducted by the ISF to hunt down ISIS sleeper cells, local cooperation and coordination have proven to be a significant factor in the defeat of militants throughout the country. As a result, the armed forces have agreed to create local security forces and enlist young men from Tarmiyah to strengthen the security in the district.
While the number of attacks conducted by ISIS against civilians has gone down significantly since the defeat of the militant group in December 2017, the recent wave of attacks highlight the need to pursue further clearing operations, especially in an area oft-targeted by IS militants.