BAGHDAD, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Up to 19 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed and 16 other captured after continuing operation by Iraqi security forces to hunt down IS militants in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a security official said on Thursday.
The Iraqi army, intelligence service and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units participated in the operation which was launched about three weeks ago to hunt down remnants of IS militants in seven areas in Diyala, Sadiq al-Husseini, head of the security committee of the provincial council, told Xinhua.
So far, the troops killed 19 IS militants and captured 16 others, al-Husseini said, adding that six of the extremist group leaders were among the killed and five other leaders were among the captured.
During the operation, the joint forces have also destroyed 13 hideouts and confiscated caches of weapons and ammunition, according to al-Husseini.
Also in Diyala, a security force captured three members of an IS supply cell as they were moving in motorcycles in rugged area carrying foodstuff, weapons and ammunition near Himreen Mountain, some 55 km northeast the provincial capital Baquba, al-Husseini said.
Despite repeated military operations in Diyala, IS remnants were still hiding in rugged areas near the border with Iran, as well as the sprawling areas extending from the western part of Diyala to Himreen mountainous area in the northern part of the province.
The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.