Iraqi security forces have launched a joint operation to sweep riversides of Alwand river in Kahanqin, north west of Baghdad, targeting hideouts for remnants of the Islamic State ISIS.
The operation follows a 7-week campaign covered the river of Sirwan and the surrounding areas of Jalawla subdistrict, particularly the village of Islah, a safe haven for IS militants. 7,000 donums of agricultural lands and orchards were dried in the campaign in order to leave no chance for the extremist Jihadists to take shelter there.
Ali al-Outaibi, media officer of Brigade 28 of the Shiite paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces PMF said a joint force of Iraqi army and PMF on May 21st commenced an operation on the eastern and western riversides of Alwand and nearby villages.
“Beside sweeping, we inspect and check all the villagers,” al-Outaibi said.
Two weeks earlier, the forces started drying the trees of Alwand Brook in order to clear the way for the military operation, a source in Iraqi army said.
The district of Khanaqin is home to 90,000 Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, mainly Shiite. It is one of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.
Currently Khanaqin is under control of Baghdad since 2017 with local police downtown while Iraqi army and pro-Shiite militia PMF known as Hashid aal-Sha’abi deployed at the outskirts.
Kurds were controlling Khanaqin following the ousting of Saddam Hussein regime in 2003 up to 2017.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution in 2005 outlined a road map for disputed territories calling for normalization, census and referendum to determine its administration all in two years but only part of the first stage has been implemented up to the present.
The disputed territories extend from Khanaqin in the east on the border with Iran to the oil rich city of Kirkuk heading to the west of Mosul in Shingal, home to Ezidi ethno-religious minority, on the border with Syria.
A senior Iraqi army officer participating in the operation said no activities of Daesh militants around Sirwan River are seen as their hideouts were destroyed “so we doubt they are hiding in Alwand riversides.”
“We plan to give them no chance to settle here by searching the area.”
IS militants have launched tens of moves and activities in Khanaqin and its suburbs leaving 15 soldiers of Iraqi army and PMF killed and tens injured and causing material damage to houses, cattle, orchards and vehicles of the villagers.
In retaliation, a wide range of operations launched in the disputed territories of Khanaqin district of Diyala, Daquq of Kirkuk, Duz Khurmatu in Salahaddin and Mont Makhmour adjacent to Erbil, capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.