Commander: some senior IS leaders remain at Diyala-Salahuddin borders

Iraqi government forces in Hamreen Mountains in Diyala.

Diyala ( An Iraqi paramilitary commander warned Wednesday that several senior leaders of the Islamic State remain in hiding at the Diyala-Salahuddin borders.

Jabbar al-Maamouri, a senior commander at the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), told Alsumaria News that the elite of five IS so-called “wilayas” (provinces) remain in hiding at Mutaibija, an Islamic State hotbed falling between Diyala and Salahuddin provinces which has seen recurrent attacks by the militants and counter-strikes from Iraqi forces and allied troops.

Those “are hiding in holes and tunnels in Mutaibija…which is known for its highly complicated geography,” Maamouri said. “Daesh (Islamic State) opted for hiding in Mutaibija due to its strategic location which falls among three provinces, besides the fact that it represents a natural extension of the Hamreen mountains”.

Maamouri warned that those vestige militants could “form a nucleus for a new terrorist group”.

Iraq declared the end of Islamic State territorial influence last Friday with the recapture of its last haven in Anbar province.

A government campaign, backed by the PMF and a U.S.-led coalition, recaptured all of the group’s major bastions in Iraq, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday final victory over the group would be declared once the militants are expelled from desert areas.

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