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Iraqi Forces Launch Largest Operation to Chase ISIS Militants

Iraqi Forces Launch Largest Operation to Chase ISIS Militants

Tuesday, 5 March, 2019 - 11:30
A military vehicle of the Iraqi security forces is pictured near the University of Anbar, in Anbar province. REUTERS/Stringer
Baghdad- Hamza Mustafa
Iraq’s Security Media Cell announced Monday the launching of the largest security operation in Anbar province.

“The First Infantry Division of Anbar Operations Command has embarked on a large-scale military operation in South Sikar and Dabaa village to impose security, pursue wanted persons, search whether there were abductees, destroy arms and ammunition stores, and check information on families there," a statement by the Cell said.

“As part of the plan to hunt down and track terrorists, an operation carried out by the seventh Infantry Division in the west and east Wadi Hauran was launched and resulted in the destruction of six tunnels and three hideouts and the detonation of 299 explosive devices,” the statement added.

A security source has earlier issued a warning saying that the desert area in Anbar province has become a military zone, warning citizens from going there.

The warning was made through leaflets distributed among locals by army soldiers, who warned citizens as well as shepherds from entering the area and asked them to leave towards al-Rutba- al-Nakhib village, 160 kilometers away.

The army also warned local residents of risking their lives if they didn't heed orders, given the ongoing military operations in the desert areas.

In this context, Head of the security committee in Anbar province council Naim al-Kaoud told Asharq Al-Awsat that the main reason behind issuing this warning, which coincided with the launching of a military operation, is that ISIS has exploited grazing and haunting in these areas and abducted dozens of citizens.

“Abductions by ISIS in the recent period were all under the pretext of hunting and grazing,” Kaoud said, adding that they have brought families to these areas to herd sheep. Therefore, it was difficult for the military to deal with them because they couldn’t distinguish between residents, nomads, and ISIS militants.

He explained that warning citizens of sheepherders and hunters in the desert would help the military effort to differentiate between citizens and militants.

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