The Iraqi military announced in a statement that the operation, dubbed “Will of Victory,” began early Sunday morning and was meant to clear a territorial expanse bordered by the three provinces of Salahaddin, Nineveh, and Anbar and toward the Syrian border further west.
The operation would secure the vast western desert leading to the Syrian border amid fears that Daesh sleeper cells are using the area to regroup.
According to the statement, Iraqi armed forces, and fighters from the PMU — better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi — tribal groups, and US-led coalition warplanes were all taking part in the offensive.
In May, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Iraqi PMU forces successfully finished a joint operation clearing the Iraqi-Syrian border of remaining Daesh terrorists.
Daesh has been purged from almost the entire territories it used to control in Iraq and neighboring Syria. However, sporadic attacks by the group are still reported in the two countries.
In February, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said he was concerned about developments in Syria, where Daesh terrorists lost their last stronghold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River and started fleeing in droves toward desert areas in Iraq’s Anbar.
Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes of land. On July 2017, the then-Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared military victory over Daesh.
In recent years, the US and its allies have been bombarding purported Daesh positions inside Iraq and Syria.