Iraqi army soldiers and members of the pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known in Arabic as Hashd al-Sha'abi, have managed to cleanse more than two dozen areas north of the capital, Baghdad, and elsewhere in the country of remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
The media bureau of Hashd al-Sha’abi forces announced in a statement on Tuesday that the volunteer forces, together with Iraqi troops, rapid response teams, units from the Baghdad Operations Command and members of the Iraqi Federal Police had purged 30 villages north of Baghdad, and in the provinces of Anbar, Salahuddin and Diyala.
The 12th Brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi cleansed the villages of Sabe'ah, Saleh al-Ajaj and Ibrahim Badiwi of Daesh extremists, and destroyed a militant hideout in al-Halabesah village, which lies in al-Nabaei region north of Baghdad.
Bomb disposal units of army forces and voluntary fighters also defused several improvised explosive devices, which Daesh terrorists had planted to slow down their advances west of Tarmiyah town, located about 25 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Separately, fighters from the 8th Brigade of the pro-government forces and the Iraqi Federal Police could cleanse the villages of Ramadan 14 and Hur al-Aba'iji besides Sur region of Daesh presence.
Second-in-Command of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah, said in a statement on Saturday that Iraqi military forces had launched the second phase of a major operation to hunt down the remnants of the Daesh terror group north of Baghdad and areas nearby.
The statement noted that the offensive aims to “to beef up security and stability in areas north of Baghdad and surrounding areas in the provinces of Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar.”
It said that units from the Baghdad Operations Command, command operations from Diyala, Samarra and Anbar, the Federal Police Command, rapid response teams, voluntary Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and the special forces regiment of the Operations Department of the Chief of Staff of the Army as well as the Special Task Force of the Directorate of Military Intelligence were participating in the offensive.
Iraq's army and the voluntary forces began the first phase of the Will of Victory Operation early on July 7, the military said in a statement, adding that the operation would last several days and was aimed at securing the province of Anbar and the central and northern regions of Salahuddin and Nineveh.
“We press on the hands of our heroic forces that will achieve victory with the will of its heroes against the gangs of Daesh,” Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said.
“May God protect you and make you victorious,” he added.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ last main urban stronghold in Iraq.
In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.