Iraqi military killed over 200 IS militants in 2022 but deadly sleeper cell attacks continue

Iraqi military killed over 200 IS militants in 2022 but deadly sleeper cell attacks continue
2 min read
15 December, 2022
The Iraqi military continues to combat sleeper cells of the Islamic State group as attacks continue.
The Iraqi military continues to hunt down IS militants in the war-ravaged country [Getty/archive]

The Iraqi military has killed more than 200 Islamic State (IS) group fighters this year in ground and air operations, a spokesperson has said, yet militant attacks in the country continue unabated.

"The Iraqi armed forces have a strategy to deal with terrorist organisations, especially after five years since the victory over IS," spokesman for the Joint Operations Command in the army, Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, said in a press briefing.

"This strategy is being updated according to the variables and challenges of terrorism."

IS continues to wage a low-level insurgency in northern Iraq after losing swathes of territory it once controlled from 2014 to late 2017.

Al-Khafaji said the military was assisted by intelligence and help from citizens in former IS areas helping defang the group.

"IS no longer has a vision, and it lives in a state of confusion after the destruction of the organisation’s command and control system," he said.

The small groups of IS fighters are based mainly in mountainous and remote areas of Iraq and flee when faced by Iraqi forces, although the Iraqi Air Force has played a key role in confronting the group from the air.

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The Iraqi military remains on high alert in northern and western governorates - such as Nineveh, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salaheddin and Anbar - due to the continued threat of hit-and-run attacks, which have resulted in casualties.

On Wednesday, three Iraqi officers were killed and three other soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated as an army convoy patrolled the Tarmiya area, north of the capital city of Baghdad.

Iraqi security forces carry out regular search operations in the Tarmiya area to prevent the IS sleeper cells from using the area as a launchpad for attacks, the military said.

The region's terrain of palm tree orchards and irrigation channels has complicated the mission.