Iraq launched phase three of Operation Iraqi Heroes in June 2020 to sweep 4,483 square kilometers of Salah al-Din governorate in search of Daesh remnants. The goal was to capture terrorists, destroy their bunkers, remove explosives, and promote security and stability in the region.
Remnants of Daesh have recently become more active and carried out sporadic attacks in the governorate, targeting security forces and civilians alike. When Daesh was defeated in December 2017 and lost the Iraqi territories it occupied, many fighters fled to remote, unpopulated regions.
Taking advantage of the Iraqi security forces’ preoccupation with overseeing COVID-19 lockdowns and virus sterilization efforts, Daesh fighters attempted to gather together fugitives and carry out attacks in an attempt to prove they are still relevant.
Iraq mustered a variety of troops to counter Daesh’s attempts at resurgence. They included military units from Salah al-Din, Samarra, Kirkuk and Diyala; special operations brigades; federal and provincial police; and peshmerga forces. The Iraqi Air Force, Army Aviation and global coalition air forces provided support to the ground troops.
The operation culminated in the destruction of boats used by Daesh operatives in the Aqso River, northwest of the city of Amerli. Iraqi troops discovered and destroyed six tunnels, 33 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 10 bunkers, three weapons caches and five IED factories.
Phase one of operation Iraqi Heroes was launched in February 2020 to purge Al-Anbar governorate and the surrounding areas near the Iraq-Syria-Jordan border. Phase two covered southwest Kirkuk governate, near the border with Salah al-Din. Phases three and four were also completed by the end of summer.
Other operations were launched in 2019. The most decisive was the eight-phased Operation Will of Victory in which many Daesh militants were killed and their hideouts and weapons caches destroyed.
Source: National Iraqi News Agency (NINA)