Kurdish Commandos destroy ISIS tunnels in Garmyan

Kurdish Commandos destroy ISIS tunnels in Garmyan

Shafaq News/ Kurdish special forces said on Friday they had destroyed two tunnels controlled by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and seized electronic devices during an operation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

A statement from the Kurdish Commandos said "acting on detailed intelligence shared with Coalition partners, a team of Commandos commenced search operations in the Garmyan area on Thursday afternoon, continuing through to dawn on Friday, May 24, 2024."

"The Commandos discovered a cache of electronic devices, including laptops and spare parts, inside one of the tunnels. Coalition helicopters provided overwatch throughout the operation, which concluded at 9:00 am on Friday."

Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, defeated ISIS territorially in 2017. The group has carried out lower-scale attacks since then, particularly in remote areas of the Diyala, Salahuddin, Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces, including in areas that are disputed between the federal and Kurdistan Region governments.

Iraqi operations against ISIS are ongoing. In March, Iraqi forces announced the death of a prominent ISIS leader. On Tuesday, seven "terrorists" with undisclosed affiliations were arrested in Nineveh. A day earlier, authorities seized a money exchange that allegedly received funds on behalf of ISIS in Kirkuk, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

The recent resurgence of ISIS activity comes as the Iraqi government seeks the withdrawal of US forces from the country. There are around 2,500 US military personnel in Iraq as part of the anti-ISIS coalition. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has repeatedly said the coalition is no longer necessary and that it is time to implement a withdrawal. The two countries began a dialogue on the issue late last year.

American officials maintain that ISIS remains a threat in Iraq, albeit less so than in years past. In its report on ISIS for the fourth quarter of 2023, the US Defense Department's Office of Inspector General described ISIS as "largely contained."

The United Nation's mission to investigate alleged genocide and war crimes by ISIS will end in September. Reuters reported in March that the mission, known as UNITAD, will close in September amid disputes with the Iraqi government over evidence-sharing and the death penalty. UNITAD's work was expected to last several more years.

ISIS killed thousands of civilians when it swept through northern Iraq in 2014 and particularly targeted ethnic and religious minority groups. Some members of these communities have been critical of UNITAD's work coming to a close.

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