ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Forces on Thursday announced the launch of the campaign to clear a large desert area from remnants of the Islamic State (IS).
Security forces in Iraq and Syria have retaken most cities and strongholds that were under the jihadist group’s control after its emergence in 2014. The most recent victory was in the border town of Rawa in Iraq, after which Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of the IS caliphate in Iraq.
Despite the gains made by security forces in Iraq, IS militants are still active in a remote “desert triangle” linking the provinces of Anbar, Nineveh, and Salahuddin.
The Iraqi Forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), will embark in the “second phase of the liberation of the Upper Euphrates,” the Iraqi War Media Cell reported. The statement gave no further details.
Prime Minister Abadi earlier this week warned that victory against IS would not be complete until the large desert area was cleared of all remaining jihadists.
The vast swath of Iraqi territory at the border with Syria has been used as a launch pad for attacks on Iraqi security forces since the fall of the regime in 2003, and helped IS establish supply lines in 2014.