Shafaq News/ ISIS militants are using bombs and booby traps to secure their hideouts and impede the security forces' campaigns in the "hot areas", two local officers in Diyala said on Tuesday.
Authorities in Iraq use the term "hot area" to imply that the area in question is infested by terrorist groups.
The director of the Qara Tappa sub-district, Wasfi Murtada al-Tamimi, told Shafaq News Agency, "ISIS members often plant bombs along the pathway the security forces use in the littoral triangle between the Narin sector, the outskirts of Jalawla, and the Hemrin lake."
"They hide behind a wall of bombs and booby traps to prevent the security forces from reaching their hideouts," he added, "many security operations ended up with casualties due to hidden bombs."
The director of al-Saadiya sub-district, Ahmed Thamer al-Zarkoushi, said that the borders of al-Saadiya with the Hemrin lake are "fully secured".
"All the bombs sporadically found here and there are war remnants," he explained.
"ISIS hotbeds are found outside the lake's territory, near the far northeastern borders of the sub-district," he added.
Diyala, which stretches from the Iranian border to just north of the capital, Baghdad, is crossed by the Hamrin mountain chain, infamous for its longstanding use as a hideout for insurgent groups even before ISIS existed.
It was east of Diyala's capital city, Baquba, that the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq at that time, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a 2006 airstrike.
In recent years, Diyala has been one of the Iraqi governorates with the highest number of attacks by ISIS cells.
While security issues have been left to fester in the governorate and must be addressed, there are also major concerns about sectarian killings.
Sunni Arabs in general across Iraq experienced major displacement during the ISIS occupation of their hometowns and the subsequent fight against the international terrorist group. ISIS was declared defeated by the Iraqi government in December 2017.
Many from areas previously under ISIS control have still not returned home almost five years later, or have no homes to return to. In some cases, such as Jurf al-Sakr (now renamed Jurf al-Nasr), they are not being allowed back into the area by Shiite armed forces that have claimed the area for themselves.
Such situations — which have deprived many of their lives, homes, and livelihoods — are being used for propaganda purposes by ISIS or others seeking to place collective blame on already suffering communities.