On February 3, a commander of Anbar province operations in the Iraqi Army, Major General Mahmoud al-Falahi, announced that the Iraqi Army, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and the Iraqi security forces had launched a joint security operation against ISIS cells in the Anbar desert near the Iraqi-Saudi border.
“Units of the [Iraqi] Army, Police, Tribal PMU and border forces supported by the [Iraqi] air force and the US-led coalition began a large-scale operation to secure Anbar desert towards the Iraqi-Saudi border,” Maj. Gen. al-Falahi said, according to the Iraqi al-Sumaria TV.
According to Maj Gen. al-Falahi, the security operation is aimed at destroying ISIS camps and hideouts in the Anbar desert. The commander also revealed that many ISIS fighters who fled from the battles in western Iraq in 2017 are currently hiding in the desert.
Iraqi sources reported that over 21 fighters of ISIS were killed by the Iraqi Army during the first day of the security operation. Moreover, the Iraqi Army destroyed 11 vehicles and a camp of the terrorist group.
After a de-facto collapse of ISIS’ self-proclaimed Caliphate in late 2017, the Iraqi Army began conducting wide-scale security operations against the cells and hideouts of the terrorist group. According to experts, hundreds of ISIS cells are still active mainly north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad and in the southern and western parts of the country.