Iraqi military moves against ISIS north of Baghdad

The latest operation comes after ISIS attacks increased again this year

Security forces detonate an explosive device placed by the Islamic State militants during a search operation in Taramiyah, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Security forces are sweeping villages and farmland north of Baghdad as part of an operation aimed at clearing remaining militants belonging to the Islamic State group from around the country's capital. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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The Iraqi military launched an operation on Thursday to track down ISIS militants north of Baghdad in a show of force by the new prime minister, authorities said.

Official media said troops were searching under air cover for “remnants” of the group, after receiving “accurate intelligence” about their whereabouts.

It is the third such action after former intelligence chief Mustafa Al Kadhimi became prime minister two months ago.

In the past few weeks, Mr Kadhimi, whose appointment was backed by the US, has also moved against Iranian-aligned militias that he accused of carrying out criminal activity and undermining Iraq as a state.

On Thursday, government troops combed Al Tarmiya for ISIS militants, the Iraqi news agency said. The area is situated between Baghdad and the mostly Sunni province of Saladin, the home region of Saddam Hussein.

Two operations over the last two months targeted ISIS pockets between Saladin and other governorates.

The military announced victory over the group in 2017 but officials said ISIS attacks against government targets picked up this year.

The official agency said members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a mostly Shiite militia grouping known as the Hashed, took part in the operation.

Mr Kadhimi has received a torrent of abuse this week from the most pro-Iranian components of the Hashed, after an elite force loyal to the prime minister raided a Kataib Hezbollah complex in Baghdad on Friday and seized a dozen of its members.

The US accuses Kataib Hezbollah of attacking bases hosting US troops, and diplomatic targets in Baghdad. The pro-Iranian faction is one of the most ideological, and lethal, Hashed militias.

Kataib Hezbollah is particularly despised by Sunni politicians and tribal leaders, who accuse the Shiite dominated government and the Hashed of transgressions against the Sunni community in the fight against ISIS.