The Iraqi Security Forces have launched a series of anti-ISIS operations north of Baghdad in a bid to ensure that the militants do not take advantage of the vacuum resulting from the country's political uncertainty and the on-going tensions between the US and Iran.
Overshadowed by the repercussions of the conflict between the United States and Iran, as well as the continued protests across the country and the resulting political deadlock, Iraq’s war against ISIS continues.
In addition to the Will of Victory operations that have been conducted across the country, which aim to root out ISIS sleeper cells left after the group’s defeat in December 2017, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have also conducted counter-ISIS operations north of Baghdad.
Dubbed the “Promising Peace” Operations, the new sweep against ISIS cells around Baghdad was launched on Thursday and targeted the sparsely-populated farmlands of the Tarmiyah area where ISIS militants have been known to take shelter, using the thick vegetation and crops to hide and launch attacks. The ISF has divided the area into three, with each division carrying out its own sweeps.
Officials presiding over the operations said that the local ISF is trained to deal with the difficult terrain and are supported by intelligence gathered to find ISIS hiding spots. They are confident that the initial goals of the Promising Peace operations have met their goals. It is hoped that as a result of these operations, in conjunction with the Will of Victory operations, will allow Baghdad and the rest of the country to be less vulnerable to ISIS attacks that could seek to take advantage of the on-going instability in the region.
The continuation of these operations is vital for ensuring that ISIS is not able to make a comeback. The political uncertainty in the country and the suspension of anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria by the International Coalition due to Iran tensions both run the risk of providing the group with a fertile environment to make a comeback. Indeed, similar conditions were behind the group’s rise back in 2014. As such, that the ISF retains some focus on ensuring ISIS doesn’t make a comeback shows that the lessons learned since then remain relevant today.
More significantly, this was the first time since 2014 that the ISF launched anti-ISIS operations without the involvement of the Coalition, highlighting the increased development and self-sufficiency of the local forces.