BAGHDAD, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Eight Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Sunday during a major offensive launched by the Iraqi security forces to hunt down the extremist militants in the desert areas in western Iraq, the Iraqi military said.
"The Iraqi army and paramilitary tribal units, backed by the Iraqi and international aircraft, launched in the morning a large-scale operation in western Iraq in coordination between the provincial operations commands of Anbar, Salahudin and Nineveh," Qassim al-Mohammedi, commander of al-Jazira Operations Command, told Xinhua.
Al-Mohammedi, whose command is responsible for the security of western part of Anbar province and the borderline with Syria, said that the operation is designed to search for the hideouts of IS terrorists in the desert and destroy them, in order not to give the extremist militants a chance to regroup in the desert.
So far, the troops managed to kill eight IS militants, destroy five hideouts and three of their vehicles, al-Mohammedi said.
The operation came a few days after the top IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first appearance in a video since 2014, in which he recognized the defeat of his militants in the town of al-Baghouz in eastern Syria.
The security situation in Iraq has been dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants late in 2017, and the Iraqi forces repeatedly carried out operations to control the whole border areas with Syria and nearby desert in western Iraq.
However, small groups or individuals of IS militants frequently tried to infiltrate into Iraq from neighboring Syria through the roughly 600 km long border with Iraq with vast rugged areas and desert land in an attempt to regroup in Iraq again.