BAGHDAD – The Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) has launched several attacks across Iraq as the Kata’ib Hezbollah resistance group warned of a Saudi-US plan to revive the terrorist group. The Arabic Al-Mayadeen news network reported on Sunday that Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units’ 21st Brigade thwarted an ISIS assault on the al-Eith region of the eastern Salahuddin Province.
The PMU’s 47th Brigade also repelled a Daesh operation in the Jurf al-Sakhar region in the central Babil Province, resulting in one PMU casualty. Another attack in the eastern Diyala Province, however, lead to five casualties among the country’s pro-government tribal units, according to a security official.
Earlier on Sunday, a Daesh operation seeking to infiltrate the central Karbala province from the western Anbar province was forced to retreat with casualties following the intervention of Iraqi security services. Iraqi forces also launched numerous raids on Daesh terror cells on Sunday.
Four terrorists were killed after PMU artillery units targeted Daesh elements east of the city of Tikrit in Salahuddin. Another four terrorists were captured in the Northern Kirkuk province. Separate Iraqi security operations also led to the arrests of two prominent Daesh figures in the northern Nineveh province, known as “Abu Talha al-Ansari” and “Humam al-A’li”.
The spike in terror and anti-terror operations comes after at least 10 PMU fighters were killed in a coordinated attack in the cities of Mekeeshfa and Balad in the Salahuddin Province in a Daesh raid on Saturday. The engagements mark the latest of an increasing string of Daesh sleeper cell attacks in the past few weeks, usually concentrated between the provinces of Salahuddin, Kirkuk and Diyala.
The uptick in ISIS operations has happened “nearly” simultaneously with Washington’s latest string of airstrikes openly targeting PMU forces, which are formally part of the Iraqi security forces. Washington most notably assassinated the PMU’s Deputy Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, alongside Iran’s top commander, General Qassem Soleimaniin Baghdad, in January.
Iraqi resistance groups have responded by vowing to take up arms against the US if Washington fails to comply with a parliamentary order calling for the expulsion of US troops following the assassination. The increased ISIS attacks across the country also come as the government’s ability to respond has been affected by political uncertainty.
ISIS overran large swathes of the country after unleashing a deadly campaign in 2014. The formation of voluntary forces later known as the PMU, however, allowed Iraq to gradually bring the Daesh advance to a standstill, ultimately leading to the terrorist group losing all control over Iraqi territory in 2017.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran’s IRNA news agency, Mohammad Muhyee, spokesman for the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah resistance group affiliated with the PMU, said that the recent ISIS operations stemmed from US and Saudi backing. Muhyee’s remarks echoed statements published by numerous other Iraqi resistance groups in the last few days.
Muhyee added that Riyadh and Washington were using the group to impose their will on the country, with the US specifically seeking to justify prolonging its military presence.
“We can not expect Daesh’s recent operations to have occurred naturally; international and regional intelligence organizations are supporting it with logistics, intelligence and weapons,” he said.
Muhyee added that the US and Saudi plot sought to force the PMU to leave Iraq’s western, northern and eastern regions.
Referring to Daesh’s attack on Mekeeshfa and Balad on Saturday, Muhyee said that Daesh’s control over the two areas could bring the country to the edge of a new security crisis similar to the one which led to the initial expansion of ISIS in 2014. The spokesman added that Daesh’s simultaneous operations across several provinces may be intended to provide cover for a future and larger operation.