Iraqi intelligence officials say they have thwarted an attempt by members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group to target two revered Shia shrines and the residence of the country’s most prominent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Two officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Daesh’s plan was to launch a series of bomb attacks in the holy city of Karbala, which is home to the shrine of Imam Hussein (PBUH) – the third Shia Imam and grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – and the holy city of Najaf, which houses the shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH) – the first Imam of Shia Muslims – in addition to home of Grand Ayatollah Sistani.
The officers added that scores of Daesh bombers were killed two weeks ago, when Iraqi and Russian military aircraft carried out simultaneous airstrikes against a gathering point of militants in the Iraqi town of al-Qa'im, located nearly 400 kilometers northwest of the capital Baghdad and near the Syrian border, as well as Syria’s troubled eastern city of Mayadin.
On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.
In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, had made sweeping gains against Daesh since launching the operation on October 17, 2016.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.
An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began eight months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned, mainly to the liberated areas of eastern Mosul.
Iraqi army kills 15 Daesh terrorists, destroys car bombs west of Anbar
Separately, Iraqi government forces have killed more Daesh militants and destroyed a number of cars rigged with explosives in the conflict-ridden western province of Anbar.
Commander of al-Jazeera Liberation Operations, Major General Qassim al-Mohamadi, said at least 15 extremists had been killed and four car bombs destroyed during a string of counter-terrorism operations in Umm al-Wez desert region northwest of Haditha, located about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Daesh places families of leaders under house arrest
Meanwhile, Daesh has placed families of some of its senior militant commanders under house arrest in the town of Hawija, located 45 kilometers west of the northern Iraqi oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
A local source, requesting anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that around 40 families from Daesh’s self-proclaimed Diyala governorate have been affected as a result of the restrictive measure.
The source added that the move points to the growing conflicts among top Daesh figures, and harbingers the imminent collapse of the terrorist outfit.