Iraqi Hashd al-Sha’abi forces launch second phase of op along Syria border
Iraqi fighters from pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have launched the second phase of a military operation to purge the vast desert in the country’s western province of Anbar along the border with Syria of Daesh terrorist group members.
The media bureau of the voluntary forces – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi –announced in a statement on Monday that the fighters and Iraqi army troopers, backed by military aircraft, mounted an offensive to flush out remaining Daesh terrorists in al-Jazeera region.
The forces added that Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and government forces were now heading towards al-‘Awinah area.
The media bureau of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command later stated that government troops had destroyed two militant hideouts and as many vehicles rigged with explosives.
Iraq's army and the voluntary forces began the first phase of the Will of Victory Operation early on Sunday, the military said in a statement, adding that the operation would last several days and was aimed at securing the province of Anbar and the central and northern regions of Salahuddin and Nineveh.
"We press on the hands of our heroic forces that will achieve victory with the will of its heroes against the gangs of Daesh," said Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
"May God protect you and make you victorious," he added.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.
In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.