Date: June 25, 2020
Author: Halgurd Sherwani

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s security forces (ISF) on Monday launched the third phase of military operations codenamed “Iraq’s Heroes” to hunt down the so-called Islamic State remnants in Salahuddin governorate and its surroundings, security sources announced.

In early February, in the face of mounting Islamic State attacks, the ISF announced the launch of a military operation in western Iraq on its borders with Syria and Jordan to repel the terror group’s attacks that targeted the security forces and civilians, named “Iraq’s Heroes.” The operation marked the first phase.

“Under the directive of the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief [Mustafa al-Kadhimi] and supervision of the Joint Operations Command, the third stage of Operation of Iraq’s Heroes launched,” Yehia Rasool, spokesperson for the Iraqi Commander-in-Chief, tweeted.

The operation aims to “inspect and purge” the areas [from the Islamic State remnants] in Salahuddin governorate and its borders with the Operations Command of Kirkuk, Samarra, and Diyala, he added.

“The military operation will be conducted from three axes with the full support of the entire Iraqi air force and the International Coalition against ISIS,” Yehia noted.

According to the announcement, the participating forces include forces that belong to Iraq’s ministry of defense, ministry of interior, and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) units. The operation conducted on “intelligence” provided by spy agencies, the statement added.

In early June, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi landed in Kirkuk’s airbase to supervise the launch of “second phase” of Iraq’s Heroes Operation by the ISF in the southwestern part of Kirkuk province in response to mounting terrorist activities.

While Islamic State operations continue since the group’s territorial collapse in late 2017, officials from the Kurdistan Region, along with civilians in the disputed territories, have repeatedly called for the creation of a long-term joint security plan between Erbil and Baghdad to fill the deadly security gaps.

Following a deadly attack on the minority Kakai Kurds in the disputed Khanaqin in Diyala province by the Islamic State, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, warned about the rise of terrorism in the disputed areas, after repeated attacks in the disputed district of Khanaqin and in the outskirts of Kirkuk over the past days.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

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