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Coalition warplanes strike ISIS hideouts south of Kirkuk: Iraqi forces

With air support from the US-led coalition, the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (ICTS) said it launched a ground operation south of Kirkuk on Monday against remnants of the Islamic State group (ISIS), killing an unspecified number of militants.

“A number of terrorists were killed in 11 airstrikes” during the operation on Mount Ghurra, south of Dibis, the ICTS said in a statement.

“Eight caves used by the remnants of the ISIS terrorists were destroyed, including an IED manufacturing factory,” the statement added.

Rudaw English has contacted the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve for confirmation of coalition involvement in Monday’s operation. It is yet to receive a response.

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in December 2017, remnants of the group have since returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations in Kirkuk, Saladin, Diyala, and Nineveh provinces.

Having lost all of its urban strongholds, the group is now most active in Iraq’s remote deserts and mountains, and in the disputed territories contested by the federal government and the autonomous Kurdish region, where a wide security vacuum has opened up.

In an effort to purge the group from isolated regions of Anbar, Nineveh, and Saladin, the Iraqi army on Sunday launched operation Lions of al-Jazeera.

The operation, spread over several days, is being conducted by Iraqi army units, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, and Sunni tribal fighters known as Hashd al-Ahsairi. They are accompanied by Iraqi warplanes. Source