Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) An Islamic State hotbed on the borders between Diyala and Salahuddin provinces has been totally seized by Iraqi forces, a paramilitary commander was quoted saying on Monday.
Baghdad Today quoted Karim al-Khaqani, commander of the second brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces, saying in a press statement that “operations to purge Mutaibija, north of Salahuddin’s Samarra, and surrounding areas have come to an end…with the support of the Iraqi army’s 15th division and the airforce”.
He said an operation run over three days managed to destroy or militant rest houses, tunnels and entrenchments. “Booby-trapping, vehicle armoring and explosives workshops were also destroyed”.
Iraq declared victory over Islamic State militants earlier this month, marking the end of a three-year, U.S.-backed campaign to bring down the group’s self-styled “caliphate”.
Mutaibija has been a hotbed for Islamic State’s militant activity, and a launching point for several attacks against civilians and security forces in Salahuddin and Diyala. It continued to pose a security issue even after the declaration of victory on IS.
Iraqi forces are currently working to hunt for remnant Islamic State hideouts and sleeper cells, with many warning that, even after the group had lost territorial control, it could still pose a security menace.