Iraqi Troops Destroy ISIS Media Center in Hamreen

Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism force targeted ISIS holdouts Thursday in the northern region of Hamreen, including a media center, more than a year after the country declared ISIS vanquished, Agence France Presse reported.

Although they no longer hold territory, ISIS sleeper cells were believed to be hiding out in vast deserts and scraggy mountains like Hamreen, from where they have conducted deadly hit-and-run attacks against government posts.

AFP quoted Iraqi military spokesman General Yahya Rasool as saying that Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi had ordered the Counter-Terrorism Service “to conduct operations targeting ISIS remnants and their caves in the Hamreen Mountains.”

The operation was supported by both Iraqi aircraft and US-led coalition warplanes, he said in an online statement.

CTS spokesman Sabah al-Naaman said the operation had lasted four days, with troops parachuting in and setting fire to 15 ISIS shelters.

Among them was a center used to produce ISIS’s weekly propaganda magazine Al-Naba.

“A special team is currently analyzing the seized computers and documents — and we’ll see if there’s a new issue, as they are usually published on Thursdays,” Naaman said.

The force is planning similar operations in other parts of Iraq.

“The important part of this operation is that this difficult area, which posed a threat to northern Diyala and southern Kirkuk, has been cleared out,” Naaman added.

ISIS swept across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. But it lost its territorial hold on Iraq in late 2017, and US-backed forces wrested the last piece of land in neighboring Syria from the militants last month.

Still, escapee militants have kept up guerilla attacks, especially in rural areas in the provinces of Salaheddin, Kirkuk, Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh.

In Kirkuk, militants have killed a dozen village leaders just in the past six months, according to local officials.

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