BAQUBA, Iraq, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Monday launched an operation to hunt down remnants of Islamic State (IS) militants at a rural area in Iraq eastern province of Diyala, killing at least four IS militants, an army commander said.
A joint force from the Iraqi army and police carried out an operation in Maytah area, some 120 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, leaving four IS militants killed and destroying eight IS hideouts, Lt. Gen. Mezhir al-Azzawi, commander of the security forces responsible for military operations in Diyala province, told Xinhua.
The troops also discovered two caches of ammunition and explosives, along with carrying out under control detonation to eight roadside bombs and a booby-trapped car, Azzawi said.
Maytah is part of the volatile al-Udhaim area in the northwestern part of Diyala province that extends to the rugged areas in the neighboring province of Salahudin.
Despite repeated military operations in the provinces of Diyala and Salahudin, remnants of IS militants are still hiding in rugged areas near the border with Iran in eastern Diyala province, as well as the sprawling areas between Diyala and Salahudin.
Dozens of IS militants fled their former bases in Salahudin province and Hawijah area in west of Kirkuk after the Iraqi forces cleared these areas from the extremist militants during anti-IS offensives in the past few months.
On December 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, small groups of IS militants resorted to deserts and rugged areas looking for safe havens but the security forces are hunting them down from time to time.