Iraq launched the second phase of Will of Victory operation against ISIS in four different governorates, including Salaheddine, Kirkuk, Samarra and Diyala, announced spokesperson Joint Operations Command spokesman Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji.
Khafaji said the operation will be completed within its specified time and achieve all of its goals, warning that ISIS plans to target the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iraq.
He revealed that preliminary investigations with ISIS’ second in command, Hamid Shaker, known as Abu Khaldoun, uncovered that the organization plans to carry out terrorist operations in Baghdad, taking advantage of the security forces' preoccupation with the demonstrators.
He added that on the first day of the Will of Victory operation, security forces destroyed 11 hideouts and three tunnels in Salaheddine and seized 50 kilograms of urea and 23 explosive devices.
In Kirkuk, they searched 45 villages and destroyed four tunnels and two terrorist hideouts and arrested two terrorists.
Security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is possible for ISIS to carry out attacks against protesters, taking advantage of the conditions the country is going through.
He explained that ISIS previously tried to exploit the political circumstances in the country, stressing that authorities are aware of such plans and have already managed to dismantle several cells and arrest their members.
Head of the Republican Center for Strategic Studies, Moataz Muhieddine, believes that the re-emergence of ISIS can be attributed to the failure to secure liberated areas.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that the forces' inability to secure a safe return of residents to those areas made it possible for ISIS to re-emerge. The goal should not be limited to liberating the regions as much as ensuring their security and providing the appropriate conditions that guarantee their stability.
The forces in these areas appear to be completely unqualified in monitoring ISIS terrorists, which demands the presence of qualified units, who are familiar with the terrain to avoid gaps that always require military operations, according to Muhieddine.