On Thursday, Iraq’s Nineveh Operations Command announced it had arrested 21 ISIS fighters and seized weaponry in the Qayyarah district south of Mosul. General Numan Abdul al-Zubai, commander of Nineveh Operations, vowed to press ahead with the anti-terror operation until “every last ISIS infiltrator is eliminated from the villages of Qayyarah and on the banks of the Tigris River.”
The head of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) went further, pledging to completely root out the terror group from all areas of operation, including Saladin governorate north of Baghdad، and western Kirkuk and Mosul.
“We have plans to defeat these groups، according to timetables that have been put in place to completely expel and eliminate them,” Lt. General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi told Asabah local newspaper.
Officials and security analysts say ISIS is exploiting the coronavirus pandemic that has captured much of the government’s attention to rebuild and strike with greater impunity.
“The Islamic State group has been moving the fighting from Syria to Iraq … (and) is strengthening, both financially and militarily,” Lt. Col. Stein Grongstad, who heads Norway’s military contingent in Iraq, told Norweigan media.
ISIS fighters are based largely in “agricultural areas and are thus not particularly susceptible to the virus infection,” Grongstad said, adding that they are taking security forces “that are not currently coordinated to the same extent as before the virus struck.”
ISIS’s uptick in activity includes increased attacks on both security forces and civilians that are stoking fears of a terror resurgence in the war-weary country.