Iraqi forces backed by international coalition warplanes on Sunday (July 21st) carried out a string of security operations to search areas in northern and central Iraq for "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants.
The operations resulted in the killing or arrest of 15 ISIS elements, while many terrorist targets were destroyed.
Joint tribal and Ninawa Operations Command forces conducted sweeps in the Ninawa desert based on intelligence reports indicating the presence of ISIS sleeper cells, security analyst Fadel Abu Ragheef told Diyaruna Monday.
The security and tribal units moved deep into the desert to clear several areas south-west of the city of Mosul, including Lake Suneisla (Sansoul), al-Shamsiyat, Tal al-Shawk, Bir Ukla and Tal al-Ghazal, he told Diyaruna.
Coalition aircraft destroyed 19 ISIS sites, he said, including rest-houses and camps west of Lake Suneisla that contained weapons, explosives, explosive belts, communication devices, food and logistical supplies.
Iraqi forces also killed seven ISIS elements in the area, targeted four ISIS sites and defused three car bombs, said Abu Ragheef, adding that they seized vehicles, motorcycles, ammunition, light weapons and two explosive belts.
ISIS remnants had been secretly active west of Lake Suneisla and posed a threat to the country's security, he said, noting that the latest security operations have destroyed these plans.
'Will of Victory' campaign continues
These operations coincided with the launch of the second phase of the "Will of Victory" campaign, which aims to fully eliminate ISIS cells in desert areas of Iraq up to the border with Syria.
The first phase, launched July 7th, involved the clearing of vast desert areas stretching across Anbar, Salaheddine and Ninawa provinces, and achieved "important security results", said Abu Ragheef.
The second phase, which kicked off at dawn Saturday, "covers areas in Baghdad's northern outskirts such as al-Taji and al-Tarmiya, which are connected to the provinces of Diyala, Salaheddine and Anbar, he added.
Units from the Baghdad Operations Command, intelligence services and traffic and river police directorates are taking part in this phase alongside the operations commands in these provinces, he said.
On Sunday "eight ISIS terrorists were arrested and seven ammunition warehouses and a secret site were destroyed", he said, adding that security forces also searched a large number of houses and agricultural lands.
These security operations are "effective and necessary", Abu Ragheef said, calling for additional operations in order to deny ISIS elements any opportunity to regroup.