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Iraqi PMU forces launch wide-scale operation to secure Diyala after Daesh terrorist attack

The file photo shows Iraqi anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units marching during a parade in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by Reuters)

Iraqi anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known by their Arabic name as Hashd al-Sha’abi, have launched a large-scale security operation to clear Daesh remnants from villages and rural areas in the eastern province of Diyala after a deadly Daesh terrorist attack in the area.

Talib al-Mousawi, commander of PMU operations in Diyala, said in a statement that the multipronged anti-terror operation kicked off Sunday morning in the al-Azim district in Diyala province.

He added that intelligence, artillery and explosive disposal units participated in the campaign, which came after a flagrant attack by Daesh terrorists on an army barracks killed 11 Iraqi soldiers in their sleep in Diyala on early on Friday.

He emphasized that occasional attacks by Daesh terrorists against the Iraqi security forces only strengthen the resolve of the PMU forces to hunt the terrorists down and counter them everywhere.

Mousawi said the operation aims to tighten the grip on the Daesh terrorists still active on the eastern and western banks of al-Azim river, noting that the anti-terror forces would go ahead with the offensive despite the cold weather, rocky grounds and difficult conditions in meadows and wetlands.

Daesh attack against the PMU security forces would never break their determination to crush the terrorists, the commander added.

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

Hashd al-Sha’abi played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi army, which had initially suffered heavy setbacks in the face of Daesh gains.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December 2017 after a three-year counterterrorism military campaign, which also had the support of neighboring Iran.

The terror outfit’s remnants, however, keep staging sporadic attacks across Iraq, attempting to regroup and unleash a new era of violence.

Daesh has intensified its attacks in Iraq since January 2020, when the United States assassinated top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and PMU’s deputy commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, near Baghdad International Airport.

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