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ISIS signals re-emergence in parts of Iraq

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While this month marks the first anniversary of the Iraqi-proclaimed victory over ISIS, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are still trying to hunt down remaining IS militants as the extremist group returns to its insurgent roots, a VOA News report said.

In a televised address on December 9, 2017, former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced the defeat of ISIS and the end of Iraqi campaign to recapture its territory.

While many considered ISIS obliterated following the declaration, recent reports show the militant group is still active in parts of the country and increasingly has been assassinating important figures, bombing Iraqi forces and kidnapping civilians.

On Tuesday, security forces said ISIS militants disguised in Iraqi uniforms entered al-Amrini, 20 kilometers south of Mosul, and killed its "mukhtar," or leader, al-Shaeikh Raghib Abid al-Hadi al-Badrani. His tribesmen protested the killing, saying the lack of Iraqi army patrols gave ISIS militants free mobility in Nineveh province villages.

Ahmad Hazm al-Badrani, a spokesman for the Sunni tribe, said the village head was sleeping when ISIS fighters broke into his home.

"They took him from his bedroom and walked him outside his house for 100 meters before shooting him," al-Badrani said.

Sunni tribal force

During the Iraqi campaign to recapture Mosul last year, the al-Badrani tribe had a local force of nearly 600 members fighting alongside the Sunni Tribal Mobilization Forces against ISIS. The Iraqi government later dismantled the force.

"We hold security forces of Nineveh accountable for the recent breaches in our area. We ask them to arm us if they are not able to contain the situation," the spokesman told VOA.

The killing of al-Badrani was not an isolated attack. Iraqi village heads have found themselves the targets of ISIS militants for months.

Michael Knights, an Iraq military analyst and senior fellow at the Washington Institute, told VOA his research showed that ISIS insurgents have killed an average of 8.4 village heads per month since January 2018.

“ISIS fighters see villages as easier targets because they know big cities like Mosul are well-guarded by security forces, and residents, who are very disillusioned by ISIS destruction, will easily report them," Knights said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Smaller communities feel less protected and are less keen on cooperating with security forces, he said.

"Village members know ISIS can walk into their village anytime, kill the most important person there and leave," Knights said.

Knights said the Iraqi government needs to recruit local community members to protect the safety of those isolated villages.

ISIS regrouping

Iraqi officials say the ISIS attempt to regroup in Iraq and resize areas is not a surprise and their forces are well-prepared to prevent such moves.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in a press conference last month warned that hundreds of ISIS militants in Syria's eastern province of Deir el-Zour were attempting to cross into Iraq.

"Iraqi forces are carrying out their duties to pre-empt any attempts by ISIS to infiltrate the border and cross into Iraq," Abdul-Mahdi told reporters.

There are no official data from the Iraqi government on ISIS remnants in the country. A recent report from Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the group might still have 20,000 to 30,000 militants in Iraq and Syria, with an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 in Iraq.
Last Modified: Thursday، 06 December 2018 12:32 PM
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