counterterrorism forces launched a fresh operation against ISIS cells in
southwest Kirkuk province on Sunday, deploying troops and warplanes into areas
west of Hawija, al-Rashad, and al-Abassi, military officials said.
The region has seen a recent uptick in insurgent activity, including bombings, ambushes, kidnappings, extortion, and even arson.
Operation “New Dawn” was declared by Iraq’s Security Media Cell on Sunday.
Iraqi counterterrorism forces rope-dropped from helicopters into rural areas of southwest Kirkuk on Sunday morning to scour the area for ISIS bases and cells.
“The New Dawn operation successfully destroyed several ISIS tunnels and bases in southern areas of Kirkuk,” the media cell said in a statement Sunday.
“The operation also resulted in neutralizing and killing several ISIS militants through airstrikes and ground attacks.”
“This operation is part of the series of operations that the Iraqi security forces is conducting to counter the ISIS cells in different areas of Iraq,” the statement added.
Further details about the operation are expected soon.
New Dawn follows an earlier operation dubbed “Will of Victory” which took place in July. The operation cleared sleeper cells, bomb factories and weapons caches between Nineveh, Anbar and Saladin.
ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017, but continues to pose a serious security threat.
Militants have resumed their earlier insurgency tactics, taking advantage of the security vacuum between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the disputed territories.
There are near daily reports of ISIS militants carrying out hit-and-run attacks on security personnel and infrastructure, kidnapping and killing local officials and civilians.
According to Ambassador James Jeffrey, the US special representative for Syria engagement, ISIS still has roughly 15,000 fighters active across Iraq and Syria.
ISIS militants swept across northern Iraq in the summer of 2014, seizing control of several large Sunni-majority cities.
At the height of its power between 2014 and 2016, ISIS controlled an area roughly the size of Great Britain, spread across both Iraq and Syria.