This week the Iraqi Security Forces launched a major anti-terror operation in the city of Mosul, located in northern Iraq. The operation was largely successful with the ISF capturing a total of 22 Islamic State militants. They also recovered large caches of explosives used to construct improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since the collapse of the ISIS caliphate, there has been an increasing number of attacks and ambushes carried out against Kurdish and Iraqi security forces as well as pro-government paramilitary units and militias.

The Iraqi military released the statement that,

Nineveh Operations Command Forces arrested 22 criminals during an inspection in the village of Badush, northwest of Mosul. All of them were wanted by the Iraqi judiciary.”

The statement also confirmed that Iraqi military forces also destroyed an abandoned tunnel network as well as ten explosive charges that were presumed to be used as countermeasures — though the explosives had not yet been emplaced. The raiding forces also recovered large stores of small arms ammunition and 155mm artillery shells. The statement did not clarify exactly which unit was responsible for executing the raid but it can be speculated that Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) were the driving element behind the operation — given its high-risk nature.

The city of Mosul is the second largest in Iraq and shares a border with the autonomous Kurdistan region. The city was lost to the Islamic State in June of 2014 and rapidly fell into chaos as the extremist militants set-up shop there, declaring the city to be the caliphate’s Iraqi capital. Mosul was the last city to be liberated by Iraqi military forces and the fierce battle to reclaim the city finally concluded in July of 2017 with the aid of U.S. led coalition providing air and ground support. The battle for Mosul was some of the most intense urban combat of the Islamic State war, the reclamation operation took nearly 8 months to complete.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State in December of 2017. Despite the “victory,” the Islamic State has turned to asymmetric tactics to continue battling government forces. Now the country is plagued with kidnappings, IEDs and ambushes against security forces. In the last year, Iraq captured thousands of alleged Islamic State members, many of which are awaiting trial still. The current state of affairs in the country was long predicted by experts during the height of the Islamic State’s expansion and now the local government forces are scrambling to manage the situation.

Featured image: Baghdad, Iraq — Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) train in preparation for counter-terrorism operations on Jan. 30. 2011 Members of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP) advise, train, and assist Iraqi Security Forces during Operation New Dawn. | Photo by Army Sgt. Andrew Jacob, Special Operations Task Force-Central; United States Forces Iraq [Public domain]