ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security forces on Wednesday announced the capture of a senior Islamic State (IS) leader and one of his aides following an operation in the desert region of Anbar Province.
A statement by the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces confirmed the arrest of notorious IS leader Saab Abdullah al-Issawi, nicknamed the “desert prince” for his role in preparing booby-trapped vehicles in the deserts of Anbar.
The statement said a group of Iraqi troops backed by Iraqi warplanes “carried out a successful air landing operation in the Anbar governorate” where they apprehended Issawi and one of his assistants.
Despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s “final victory” declaration over the extremist group last December, IS remains active in the country and has recently claimed responsibility for a string of attacks across different cities, mainly in Kirkuk.
During his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Abadi admitted the war against IS extremists was not over and expressed his readiness to coordinate with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the disputed territories.
Abadi revealed that the conflict between the Iraqi government and the KRG following the Sep. 25 referendum had created a security vacuum which IS extremists had exploited.
He also emphasized the importance of cooperation between all Iraqi security forces in the fight against the militant group, adding Baghdad “supports everything related to security and intelligence.”
“We are creating security cells under the leadership of the federal government’s Counter Terrorism Forces with the participation of security forces from the Kurdistan Region to fill the security vacuum,” Abadi noted.
“We have defeated [IS extremists] militarily,” he said, claiming that he warned about eliminating active IS sleeper cells which are still present today.