ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi authorities on Friday revealed details of what it described as “the extensive operation” that led to the arrest of five Islamic State (IS) leaders.
"Under the supervision and guidance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Haider al-Abadi, and with great effort by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service in coordination with the Joint Operations Command, a major operation was carried out, leading to the arrest of important IS leaders who participated in attacks on our dear provinces of Anbar and Mosul," the Iraqi military claimed in a statement.
The apprehended leaders are "Saddam Omar Yahya al-Jamal, known as Abu Rukya al-Ansari, the so-called security commander of the Euphrates and the revolutionary commander of the Eastern Brigade."
"Mohammed Hussein Hadar, known as Abu Saif al-Shu'aiti, and Abdul Qader Ashour al-Zobaie, known as Abu Abdul Hak al-Iraqi, the so-called commander of the Fatih strike force."
The list included "Omar Shahab Hammad al-Karbouli, known as Abu Hafs al-Karbouli, the so-called Intelligence Commander of the Euphrates," and "Ismail Alwan Salman al-Ithawi, known as Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, one of [Abu Bakir] al-Baghdadi's assistant and Chairman of the Planning Committee in the so-called Islamic State."
The military statement did not acknowledge any significant role played by the US-led coalition, which has supported Iraqi security forces in the three-year-war against IS and regularly provides air cover.
The announcement specified the operation to capture the IS leaders took place on Syrian soil, in the border area with Iraq.
It noted that intelligence gathered on the whereabouts of the IS leaders allowed the Iraqi air force to conduct strikes in Syria on an IS war committee meeting chaired by Omar Abdul Hamad al-Fahdawi, known as Abu Tareq al-Fahdawi, the jihadist group's Military Commander. The operation reportedly killed some 40 high-ranking officials.
“The raid also resulted in the death of Abu Walid al-Sinawi, Wali al-Sham, Abu Islam al-Kurdi, Amin al-Sham, Ahmed Yahya Zaidan, Abu Hassan al-Askari,” IS military commanders for a number of their brigades and battalions still active east of the Euphrates river in Syria.
The statement, lauding yet another victory for Iraq's military and Commander-in-Chief, comes just one day before the Iraqi general elections. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who gained a positive image among the majority of Iraqis from his military triumphs, intends to secure enough votes to run for the second term of the premiership.
Iraqi warplanes have on multiple occasion carried out airstrikes on IS targets within Syria, the latest of which was merely a week ago.
Although Iraq declared a military victory over IS in late 2017, fighters from the jihadist group continue to carry out bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, and other attacks on a regular basis, often in areas near the Syrian border.
The group also threatened to target the polls during Iraq's elections on Saturday and claimed responsibility for the assassination of a candidate near Mosul last week.
Editing by Nadia Riva