The number of ISIS sleeper cells in Nineveh is dwindling dramatically thanks to the efforts of the Counterterrorism units of the Iraqi Army. The security forces call upon citizens to aid them in eliminating ISIS sleeper cells in their areas.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have recently launched multiple operations to clear out ISIS sleeper cells in the Anbar desert on the border with Syria and in the areas of the Hamrin Mountains used by the militants to hide and plan attacks. The operations were launched as a result of the insurgency-style incidents, such as kidnappings and assassinations, that have been used by ISIS militants after their defeat in Mosul in July 2017.
Despite the operations launched by ISF, rumours of the presence of ISIS sleeper cells have led Moslawi citizens to express their concerns regarding the city’s safety. “This situation forces us to be cautious, and we demand tight security within the city because of the proximity and because this mountainous region is rugged and difficult to monitor continuously,” says Fahad Yousif, a Moslawi observer. Citizens have demanded that the Security Forces continue to place effort into securing the city of Mosul. “We don’t want to go back to the era we once lived; the return of terrorists,” says a young Moslawi citizen. The Security Forces have reassured citizens that they are actively pursuing ISIS sleeper cells in the city of Mosul and Nineveh Province. “We are currently making exceptional efforts to follow sleeper cells and gather information. Also, we must emphasize the role of the citizen,” stated Major General Abdul Khaliq al Khayqani, the Joint Operations Coordinator. The call by Major General Khayqani is not the first time that Iraqi security officials have stressed citizen cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces to maintain stability and capture militants.
Citizens’ fears stem from statements made by former Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi. “Intelligence indicates that there are about 700 ISIS fighters ready to fight within the provinces of Nineveh and Salahuddin alone,” Nujaifi warned. “They are waiting for any conflict to take place in Iraq whether it be an administrative, sectarian, ethnic, political or regional conflict.”
Despite these claims, the security officials in the Nineveh Operations Command have denied the existence of a direct ISIS threat to Mosul. “ISIS’ story is over. The remaining militants are worried about how to keep their lives, and how to stay alive. They will die,” says Major General Najm alubouri, commander of the Nineveh Operations command. “No terrorist will remain.”