Iraqi security forces launch anti-IS operation

Baghdad: The Iraqi security forces have launched an operation to hunt down members of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in the eastern province of Diyala, a police official said.

Based on intelligence reports, a joint force from the provincial police and Sunni tribal fighters launched the operation on Saturday in areas north of the town of al-Muqdadiya, some 100 km northeast of the capital Baghdad, Nihad al-Mahdawi, head of Diyala police media office, told Xinhua news agency.

The operation aimed to clear rural areas in the north of Maqdadiyah from IS militants and destroy their hideouts, al-Mahdawi said.

Separately, IS militants kidnapped in the morning two civilians and wounded three others at a fake checkpoint near the town of Shirqat, some 280 km north of Baghdad, Colonel Mohammed al-Bazi, from Salahudin provincial police, told Xinhua.

 During the past months, IS terrorists have intensified their attacks on the Iraqi security forces in the province the group previously controlled, leaving dozens dead and wounded.

The security situation in Iraq has been improving since Iraqi security forces fully defeated the IS across the country late in 2017.

However, IS remnants have since retreated to deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.