Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Popular Mobilization Forces declared Friday the launch of a second phase of offensives to clear Iraqi desert regions from Islamic State remnants, its media said in a statement.
The statement by the mobilization media said a second phase of operations was launched to clear al-Jazirah, the desert area falling between Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar. It said forces went on clearing landmines planted by Islamic State members at an airport south of Hatra.
PMF media said Thursday the forces had cleared 55 villages in al-Jazirah.
Iraqi forces declared the end of Islamic State’s territorial influence earlier this month after recapturing the militants’ last haven in Anbar province. But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said final victory would be declared after clearing the desert area between Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command declared Thursday the launch of operations to clear al-Jazirah region.
An Iraqi government campaign, backed by PMFs and a U.S.-led coalition, has recaptured IS’s holdouts across Iraq, most notably the group’s former capital, Mosul.
Islamic State declared a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014 covering a third of Iraq and Syria. The whereabouts of the group’s founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain a mystery.