Iraq Launches Operation to Purge ISIS Remnants in Kirkuk
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced Tuesday that security forces will launch a large operation aimed at purging ISIS remnants in Kirkuk and its border with the Salaheddine governorate.
The operation, dubbed: “Iraq Heroes – Victory for Sovereignty," is the largest campaign against ISIS since Kadhimi was named prime minister in May.
In a surprise visit to the Kirkuk Joint Operation Command, he noted that during these difficult circumstances and the many challenges that the country is enduring, “our heroes of the armed forces are defying the enemy and playing a heroic role to dry up the sources of terrorism.”
Kadhimi’s media office said the operation aims to enhance security and stability, dry up the sources of terrorism and pursue ISIS remnants in the southwestern areas of Kirkuk.
The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) announced that the international anti-ISIS coalition is participating in the operations to destroy ISIS's hideouts in different regions in conjunction with this operation.
CTS units succeeded in destroying ISIS shelters with the support of the Iraqi army and the international coalition, killing a number of terrorists, announced the service in a statement.
Iraqi Armed Forces spokesperson, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said the air force supported the second phase of the “Iraqi Heroes” operation, which was launched on Tuesday to search the southwestern areas of Kirkuk bordering Salaheddine in an area exceeding 738 kilometers.
Official spokesperson for US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), Colonel Myles Caggins, tweeted that “everybody is working together to defeat ISIS.”
Security researcher Hisham al-Hashimi announced on Twitter that military operations were launched to pursue the remnants of ISIS terrorist organization in various regions, involving a number of security units from the Tribal Mobilization Forces and Popular Mobilization Forces.
Security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef said that the southeastern areas of Kirkuk are the most extremist in Iraq, because practically the whole of ISIS is stationed there.
Abu Ragheef told Asharq al-Awsat that the terrorist organization teaches Shariah and hosts several gatherings in those areas.
He explained that Abdullah Kirkuk, the new “emir” of the organization, highly values the governorate because it is bordered by Nineveh, Salaheddine, the Tikrit desert, Diyala, and Haditha desert.
ISIS also takes advantage from the political differences among Kirkuk factions and parties, he added.