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Iraqi, US-led troops destroy IS media propaganda centre

A special team is currently analysing the seized computers and documents [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 April, 2019

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Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Force targeted Islamic State holdouts in the northern region of Hamreen on Thursday, including a media centre.

Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Force targeted Islamic State holdouts in the northern region of Hamreen on Thursday, including a media centre.

The force was ordered by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi "to conduct operations targeting Daesh (IS) remnants and their caves in the Hamreen Mountains," said Iraqi military spokesman General Yahya Rasool.

Rasool noted in a statement that the operation was supported by Iraqi warplanes as well as US-led coalition aircrafts.

CTS spokesman Sabah al-Naaman said the operation had lasted four days, with troops parachuting in and setting fire to 15 IS shelters, including a centre that was used by IS to produce al-Naba magazine, used for propaganda purposes.

Naaman reiterated that "a special team is currently analysing the seized computers and documents - and we'll see if there's a new issue, as they are usually published on Thursdays."

The counter terrorism unit is reportedly planning similar operations in other regions of the country.

"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 said. 

The raid comes more than a year after the country declared the defeat of the militant group.

Though it no longer holds territory, IS sleeper cells are  believed to be hiding out in the desert and mountains, including Hamreen, from where they have launched sporadic attacks against government posts.

The so-called Islamic State swept across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, self-proclaiming a "caliphate" that violently ruled the region.

The group lost its territorial hold on Iraq in late 2017, with US-backed forces wresting its last bastion in Syria from them last month.

Escapee IS members have kept up occasional hit-and-run attacks, especially in rural areas of Sunni majority, such as in the provinces of Salaheddin, Kirkuk, Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh.

The combing operation targeting IS’ holdouts comes one month after US President Donald Trump said that the Islamic State group has been "100 percent" defeated in Syria.

"The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

The fate of the self-styled caliphate’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has become a mystery for Iraqi and US-led forces, with rumours circulating in the past implying the group’s leader was killed following American and Russian airstrikes.

US and Iraqi forces continue to hunt him down in the vast desert regions in Iraq's western and southern borders.

Earlier this month, US aircrafts dropped leaflets over Iraq offering a $25-million bounty in return for information that could lead to capturing or killing him.

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