In a large combined operation carried out over two different directorates and from four different axes of advance, the Iraqi military is attacking ISIS in an attempt to root out the terrorist group from their last remaining areas in the country

ISIS (or Daesh, as they’re locally called) terrorists tried to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the U.S.-led coalition’s gradual withdrawal from Iraq, by stepping up attacks against Iraqi citizens. As a response, the Iraqi military has stepped up its operational tempo against ISIS’s last strongholds in the country’s remote mountains and deserts.

Attacking between the border of the Salaheddine and Diyala governorates, the Iraqis used a four-pronged approach to hit ISIS hard and drive them out. So far, they have captured a series of tunnels, arms caches, bomb factories, as well as hideouts. There was also an added bonus to the operation:

The Iraqi Security Forces captured a senior, although unnamed, ISIS executioner during a successful ambush outside of the town of Dujail in southern Saladin, the Iraqi Security Media Cell said on a post to Twitter.

“During a military operation, a unit from the Samarra Operations Command was able to arrest a terrorist who was previously working as an executions officer in ISIS,” the unit post on Twitter said.

“This operation comes after a tight ambush was placed on him on the highway near the Dujail district, and all legal measures have been taken against him,” the military added. 

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense said that the operation is a huge success and Iraqi Army units, work in close conjunction with support groups from the police and Hashd Al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units).

“The operation is targeting terrorists in the Mataybija area (Hawi al-Azim), and the villages along the borders between Diyala, Salaheddine and Samarra,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement adding that scores of terrorists were killed in the operation due to the assistance of the Iraqi Air Force.

Local media have asked the Iraqi military for any details on the ISIS executioner but they haven’t released any further information yet. This is the second senior ISIS commander who has been captured recently.

Kurdish security forces in Garmiyan arrested a local ISIS leader who confessed to planning and conducting several attacks on Peshmerga forces in the towns of Jalawla and Qaratapa in the Diyala governate. Mahmoud Khurshid, who is also known as Abu Ali, was arrested by the Garmiyan Asayesh Forces back in March in the town of Rizgari, Kalar. The announcement of his capture wasn’t released, however, until early April, after he made a confession to Peshmerga interrogators. 

“He has the blood of Peshmerga forces on his hands,” Brig. Gen. Nawshirwan Ahmed said at the time.

Since the Iraqi military pushed ISIS out of their major population centers and most of its territory back in 2017, the terrorists have been conducting a guerilla campaign in the remote areas using their well-known tactics of ambushes, kidnappings, executions of suspected informants, and extortion from isolated rural populations.

ISIS insurgents controlled vast swaths of territory in both northern Iraq (including Mosul) and Syria in 2014-15 creating a “caliphate” before international coalitions hit back at them in a long bloody campaign to drive them out. 

As ISIS’s attacks in Iraq increased recently, the Iraqis vowed to put a stop. Just last week, Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari vowed to “ramp up” the efforts against Daesh.

This large operation is a testament to his pronouncements..