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Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Iraqi security forces have carried out a successful operation resulting in the elimination of 10 jihadists in their ongoing efforts to combat remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group in a vast desert expanse northwest of Baghdad.

The operation, conducted as a preemptive measure, aimed to prevent potential attacks allegedly planned for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, set to commence in the coming days, according to an Iraqi security source.

In a statement released by the army, it was confirmed that over the past 24 hours, troops had neutralized “10 terrorists” as part of the operation. Launched on Saturday across multiple provinces in northern and central Iraq, the operation saw the collaboration of the regular army and Hashed al-Shaabi, a group primarily composed of former paramilitaries with pro-Iran affiliations, now integrated into the Iraqi armed forces.

Reports from state media indicated that four jihadists were killed on Sunday, with an additional six casualties reported on Saturday in Wadi al-Tharthar, an area spanning between Salaheddine and Anbar provinces. The Islamic State group seized control of significant territories in Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014, declaring its “caliphate” and instigating a reign of terror.

Despite facing defeat in Iraq in 2017 by Iraqi forces with support from a US-led military coalition, and subsequent loss of its remaining Syrian territory to US-backed Kurdish forces in 2019, remnants of the group persist in carrying out sporadic but deadly hit-and-run attacks and ambushes, particularly from remote areas and desert hideouts.

According to a report published by the United Nations in January, IS still maintains “between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters” across Iraq and Syria. The report acknowledges the success of Iraqi forces in targeting operatives and disrupting sleeper cells, yet notes the group’s persistence in conducting periodic attacks and replenishing leadership ranks.

Recent discussions between the United States and Iraq have centered on the future of the US-led coalition, following a request by Baghdad for a timeline for ending its mission in the country. Iraqi officials remain adamant that IS no longer poses a significant threat and assert the capability of the army and security forces to thwart any remnants of the group’s activities.

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