Iraqi forces clear farmland near Baghdad of IS militants
TARMIYAH, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi security forces were sweeping villages and farmland north of Baghdad on Tuesday as part of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Islamic State group from around the capital.
A military helicopter soared overhead as troops searched for weapon caches and bombs in Tarmiyah and Iraqi river police combed the Tigris River. The area is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad.
The dragnet is part of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks ago along the border with Syria and was extended last week to areas north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Iraq declared victory against IS in July 2017, but the extremists, who once controlled much of northern and western Iraq, have continued to carry out attacks, including ambushes and kidnappings.
Maj. Gen. Jalil al-Rubaie, commander of the Baghdad Operations Command, described it as a “well planned operation” and urged residents of Tarmiyah to cooperate with security forces. Much of the area is sparsely populated farmland, which militants have used to launch attacks on security forces.
Al-Rubaie said the operation was meant to reassure the population in and around Baghdad about security in the region.