ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – As security forces ended a large military campaign targeting Islamic State fighters in western Iraq, they announced on Saturday the start of a new one in areas directly north of Baghdad.
“Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Adil Abdul Mahdi inaugurated the second phase of Operation Victory’s Will in northern Baghdad and the surrounding areas, the first of which started on Saturday morning,” read a statement from the Ministry of Defense.
The push to pursue remaining members of the Islamic State is just the latest major one carried out by troops from both the Defense and Interior ministries, various elite units, and Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias.
As the recent focus shifts from an area known as the “desert triangle” located near the Syrian border across the provinces of Nineveh, Salahuddin, and Anbar, the new phase is based in areas closer to the capital, namely Salahuddin’s town of Tarmiyah.
Several security forces have been killed in the past few weeks in Tarmiyah and its surroundings, an area made up mostly of rural farmland and orchards. Such terrain has often been used as a launching pad by multiple insurgent groups to attack Iraqi security forces and civilian targets.
Witnesses told Kurdistan 24 that the campaign follows a recent increase and "tightening" of military activities in the general vicinity.
On Thursday in the disputed town of Jalawla, northeast of Tarmiyah, two separate explosions injured seven people.
Two of the seven wounded were Iraqi soldiers, a security source told Kurdistan 24. Ambulances were dispatched to the site and transferred them to nearby hospitals.
Iraq announced the military defeat of the extremist group in December 2017, but its members continue to launch insurgent attacks, including ambushes and kidnappings, in several provinces across the country.