Iraqi Air Force Destroys ISIS Camps in Northeast Iraq Amid Reports of Anti-ISIS Operations Resuming

Updated: 2020-01-17 23:50:10

The Iraqi Air Force earlier this week destroyed an ISIS terrorist training camp in al-Shay valley in the Hamrin Mountains. A small mountain ridge in northeast Iraq, killing several terrorists, amid reports that military operations against the terrorist group have resumed.

Taking to Twitter, the Iraqi Air Force confirmed that airstrikes conducted by its F16 jets destroyed the Labwah camp, killing ISIS terrorists in the camp.

“Based on accurate counter-Daesh intelligence, @iqAirForce F16s conducted airstrikes in Wadi al-Shay in the Hamrin Mountain range, resulting in the elimination of the Labwah camp & all the terrorists inside it,” Iraqi Ministry of Defence spokesperson Yehia Rasool wrote on Twitter.

The Iraqi Security Media Cell also notified of the strike on the ISIS camp in a statement to Iraqi News Agency INA.

The communications center also announced earlier, on Thursday, that Iraqi Security forces arrested a senior religious Islamic official in eastern Mosul. According to a statement translated by Kurdish broadcast news station Kurdistan 24, the Iraqi Security Media cell said that the Nineveh Police Command’s SWAT team arrested “a so-called sharia official and mufti of ISIS called Abu Abd al-Bari” in the Mansour neighborhood after continuous investigations and “accurate information,”

“He is known for his provocative speeches against the [Iraqi] security forces, and he was inciting affiliation and allegiance to ISIS and educating extremist ideology during ISIS’ control over Mosul,” the Security Media Cell added, according to the news station. “He is considered one of the leaders in the first row of ISIS gangs, and he is responsible for issuing fatwas regarding the execution of a number of scholars and clerics who refrained from pledging allegiance to ISIS.”

Iraqi security forces also arrested a “prominent terrorist” in southern Mosul, Kurdistan 24 reported, citing an announcement on Jan. 14 by Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

Mosul was one of ISIS’s strongholds before Iraqi forces, with support from the U.S.–led forces and the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga, recaptured the region in July 2017.

News of the airstrike and arrests come as reports from The New York Times and The Associated Press appear to indicate that U.S.–led forces will resume military operations against ISIS as soon as possible. Citing unnamed U.S. military officials, the two media outlets reported that the U.S. military is resuming operations against ISIS and will soon restart training Iraqi forces. The Epoch Times could not independently verify the reports.

The U.S.–led coalition, “Combined Joint Task Force—Operation Inherent Resolve,” (CJTF-OIR) announced on Jan. 5 that it was pausing its operations against ISIS and that it was fully committed to protecting its bases after “repeated rocket attacks over the last two months” from pro-Iran militias.

The announcement came just minutes after the Iraqi parliament indicated in a non-binding vote on Jan. 5 that it wanted to expel U.S. troops from the country, just days after the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces and intelligence agency, in a targeted airstrike in Baghdad on Jan. 2.

Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Jan. 10 asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to work out a road map for a troop withdrawal. However, the United States has not moved to pull the more than 5,000 troops out.

Iraq has found itself in a predicament as an ally of both Iran and the United States. Experts told The Epoch Times that Iraq was trying to strike a balance between its two opposing allies after the death of Soleimani.

Pompeo recently said that Abdul-Mahdi is under considerable pressure from Tehran.

Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned as prime minister in November 2019 but then became the acting prime minister, said on Wednesday that he would leave a decision on whether to expel American troops from the country to his successor.

“I request that the president, parliament, and political parties nominate a new prime minister, a new government that has full authority because these difficult, complicated circumstances, especially with pulling [out] of the troops … that needs a government with full authority so it can go forward,” the outgoing prime minister said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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