Iraqi pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have announced the conclusion of a military campaign against the sleeper cells of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the central parts of the country as well as a sector of the vast western desert leading to the border with Saudi Arabia.
The media bureau of the volunteer forces, better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, announced in a statement that the fifth phase of the Will of Victory operation, which had started on September 16, was wrapped up on Friday as different units and forces of Iraqi military forces cleared the remote territory between the provinces of Karbala, Najaf and Anbar.
The operation was jointly carried out by various Iraqi forces, including al-Jazira Operation Command, federal police, the army, the PMU, counter-terrorism units and the air force.
Iraqi forces cleared plains in a 4,800-kilometer square area in Anbar province during the operation’s fifth phase. The forces detained 21 Daesh suspects, who were handed over to authorities.
The forces further secured the desert area between the holy city of Karbala, Anbar province and Wadi al-Ghaf region. They also defused a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
On August 27, the Iraqi military announced the conclusion of the fourth phase of the Will of Victory operation in western Iraq.
A statement by the media office of the Joint Operations Command said on August 5 that the Iraqi army, police and Hashd al-Sha’abi units, backed by the Iraqi Air Force fighter jets, had launched the third phase of the major offensive in the eastern Diyala province and Nineveh province in the north.
The statement said the troops had begun search operations in rural areas near the towns of Miqdadiyah, Jalawla and Khanaqin in Diyala province.
Also in Nineveh province, the troops launched an operation to clear the rugged areas of al-Atshanah and the mountain ranges of Badush and Sheikh Ibrahim in west and northwest of the provincial capital city of Mosul.
The second-in-command of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah, said in a statement on July 20 that Iraqi military forces had launched the second phase of the Will of Victory operation to hunt down Daesh remnants north of Baghdad and areas nearby.
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 was aimed at securing the province of Anbar and the central and northern regions of Salahuddin and Nineveh.
Iraq detains suspect in deadly Karbala bombing
Separately, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said in a statement released by his office on Saturday that security forces had detained a man suspected of detonating a bomb on a minibus packed with passengers outside the holy city of Karbala. The statement did not give any further details.
The Friday night blast claimed the lives of at least 12 people and left five others wounded.
The terrorist attack came weeks ahead of Arba’een mourning rituals, which mark 40 days after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the third Shia Imam.
Arba’een marks 40 days since Ashura, when Imam Hussein (AS) was martyred in a battle with the massive army of Yazid ibn Mu'awiya, commonly known as Yazid I, in the desert plains of Karbala along with his 72 companions approximately 14 centuries ago, after refusing allegiance to the tyrant caliph.
The occasion has found additional significance in recent years as it has become a rallying cry for the campaign against Takfiri terrorists, who have frequently targeted the pilgrims.
The pilgrims show their commitment to the Shia Imam by walking tens of miles, a large number of them barefoot. Mourners clad in black walk toward Karbala, which lies 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad to commemorate Arba’een, which in Arabic means forty and falls on October 19 this year.