Iraq launches security operation against IS cells near Baghdad
Iraq launched on Monday a security operation to hunt down Islamic State group militants operating north of the capital Baghdad, following an escalation in attacks in the area between Kirkuk, Salahuddin, and Diyala.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced the operation during a visit to the office of the Operations Command in Tarmiyah, Salahuddin province.
"From here, I announce the launch of a security campaign in cooperation with the families of Tarmiyah district, 50 kilometres north of Baghdad, to eliminate Daesh/ISIS sleeper cells," Al-Kadhimi said in remarks cited by a cabinet statement.
"Terror-combat is a collective responsibility where all must take part in [...] we have to revisit our security plans to face such sleeper cells."
Militants from IS have launched attacks inside the Iraqi capital from their positions in Tarmiyah district.
In recent months, fighters have escalated their attacks, especially in the area between Kirkuk, Salahuddin, and Diyala - dubbed the Triangle of Death.
Four fighters from the state-sanctioned Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were killed in a roadside explosion, local media reported on Saturday.
An Iraqi soldier was killed and one was injured earlier this month in a suspected IS attack against a military checkpoint in Tarmiyah.
While Iraq formally declared victory over IS in 2017, the group maintains sleeper cells in parts of the country and is able to launch sporadic attacks on government forces, civilians, and infrastructure.
The Iraqi army continues to carry out frequent operations against the group in parts of the country.