BAGHDAD (Dispatches) – At least five Daesh terrorists were killed Sunday in an airstrike in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, the Iraqi military said.
A statement by the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said that the Iraqi army’s helicopter gunships killed five Daesh terrorists and destroyed four hideouts near Himreen Lake in the north of the provincial capital Baquba, some 65 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The airstrike came as the Iraqi security forces launched a search campaign on Sunday morning to hunt down Daesh terrorists in the Himreen mountain range and nearby lake, the statement said.
The security situation in Iraq has been improving since Iraqi security forces defeated the Daesh terrorists across the country late in 2017.
However, Daesh remnants have since melted in urban areas or deserts and rugged areas, carrying out attacks against security forces and civilians.
Despite the random attacks, Iraqi officials and popular forces have affirmed that the country’s armed forces can deal with militants in the country and have asked foreign forces to leave the country.
About 2,500 U.S. troops are in Iraq on the pretext of fighting Daesh terrorists.
A faction of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, has rejected as offensive the presence of foreign forces in Iraq with the professed aim of "protecting” the Arab country, calling the existence of U.S. bases in Iraq a violation of the country’s sovereignty.
"To say that Iraq needs foreign forces to defend its territory is an insult to the Iraqi military and security institutions, including the army and Hashd al-Sha’abi,” Qais Khazali, who leads the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday evening.
Khazali said it was the Iraqi fighters who managed to defeat the Daesh terrorist group and its sponsors without needing the assistance of foreign forces.
On Wednesday, the U.S. and Iraq announced in a joint statement that they have agreed on the eventual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, while a remaining mission of U.S. troops will be focused on what was called "training” Iraqi troops.
The statement, however, said the two governments have not yet worked out the timing of the American forces’ withdrawal and would hold discussions on the matter.