Iraqi forces conclude 2nd phase of major anti-IS offensive

2019-07-25 02:53:00 GMT2019-07-25 10:53:00(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BAGHDAD, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces on Wednesday concluded the second phase of a major offensive to hunt down remnants of Islamic State (IS) militants in north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Iraqi military said.

A statement by the media office of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said the second phase of the offensive, started on July 20, was carried out with the participation of paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units, Counter-Terrorism Service force and air support by the Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition aircraft.

The second phase included search operations in the areas of al-Tarmia, al-Nibai and al-Abayachi in north of Baghdad, the statement said, adding that the operation was carried out with the aim of capturing terrorists, wanted suspects and confiscating unlicensed weapons and military equipment.

During the operations, the security forces arrested 12 wanted people and found four IS hideouts, four Katyusha rockets, 28 explosive devices, as well as four boats and other weapons and ammunition, according to the JOC statement.

The Iraqi helicopter gunships carried out 32 sorties and the international aircraft conducted 25 sorties to support the troops who searched a total of 89 villages and 87 orchards, it added.

On July 7, the Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units, backed by Iraqi and international aircraft, launched the first phase of the offensive to hunt down IS militants in the desert and rugged areas in the provinces of Anbar, Salahudin and Nineveh in the border areas with neighboring Syria.

The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.

IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.