Sat Sep 9, 2017 02:58PM
Iraqi forces chat as they advance towards al-‘Ayadiya district, northwest of Tal Afar, during the ongoing battle to purge the last pockets of Daesh Takfiri terrorists from the area on August 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Iraqi forces chat as they advance towards al-‘Ayadiya district, northwest of Tal Afar, during the ongoing battle to purge the last pockets of Daesh Takfiri terrorists from the area on August 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi army troops, backed by allied fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, have launched a counter-terrorism operation to hunt down Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the country’s eastern province of Diyala, killing more than a dozen extremists in the process.

Lieutenant General Mazhar al-Azzawi told Arabic-language Baghdad Today news agency on Saturday that Iraqi army soldiers, police and pro-government volunteer fighters – commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – started a multi-pronged offensive in the area between the oil-rich town of Naft Khana and the city of Khanaqin near the Iranian border.

Azzawi added that the forces killed fourteen Daesh bombers wearing explosive belts during the operation, noting that three militant hideouts were destroyed in the outskirts of Naft Khana, located some 155 kilometers northeast of the capital Baghdad, as well.

The development came only a day after the media bureau of Tigris (Dijla) Operations Command announced in a statement that Iraqi Air Force fighter jets had carried out a string of airstrikes in al-Khalawiyah region northeast of Baqubah, located some 50 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, killing 15 Daesh Takfiris.

The aerial attacks also destroyed Daesh fortifications, a vehicle and five motorbikes.

Separately, Kurdish Peshmerga forces have killed five Daesh terrorists as they tried to infiltrate into security checkpoints in Sahl al-Malih region near al-‘Ayadiyah district, which lies 11 kilometers northwest of Tal Afar.

A local source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said all the militants were wearing explosive belts.