Iraqi forces ‘hunting down’ Daesh remnants in Saladin
Iraqi forces on Sunday launched fresh operations aimed at "hunting down" Daesh terrorists still holed up in the Saladin province north of Baghdad, according to local military sources.
"Joint forces, including army troops and Hashd al-Shaabi fighters backed by the Iraqi Air Force, began mop-up operations on Sunday in Saladin's northern Dujail district," Saad Mohamed, a captain in the army's Saladin Operations Command, told Anadolu Agency.
"The campaign will focus on Al-Dujail's Al-Rafiyat, Al-Bu Aluol, Al-Farhatiya and Sayed Gharib areas, where Daesh still has a significant presence," Mohamed said.
"Our operational planning is based on intelligence that indicates the presence of several Daesh militants in the targeted areas," he added.
The operation comes less than one week after a deadly attack -- thought to have been carried out by Daesh -- that targeted a Shia shrine in Dujail, a predominantly Shia district, which left dozens dead and injured.
Over the past 72 hours, Daesh appears to have stepped up its attacks -- with both car bombs and suicide bombers -- in Iraq's eastern Diyala province; central Baghdad province; southern Dhi Qar province; and the northern Kirkuk and Saladin provinces.
On Saturday, Iraqi troops and Hashd al-Shaabi fighters launched another major operation aimed at restoring areas of the western Anbar province that were captured by Daesh in mid-2014.
A largely Shia fighting force, the Hashd al-Shaabi was formally incorporated into the Iraqi army last year.
Iraqi forces are also in the process of deploying troops to the Al-Shirqat and Hawija districts, respectively located in Saladin and Kirkuk, with the aim of wiping out the terrorist group's last redoubts in northern Iraq.
Daesh maintains a significant presence in conflict-battered Iraq despite a string of recently military losses.
Last month, the group was driven from the Tal Afar district in the northern Nineveh province. And in July, the city of Mosul -- regional capital of Nineveh -- fell to the army after a nine-month campaign.