BAGHDAD, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi security forces on Tuesday launched a major offensive to hunt down Islamic State (IS) militants in the provinces of Kirkuk and Salahudin, the Iraqi military said.
The troops, backed by Iraqi and international coalition aircraft, pushed in early morning in five routes to secure the desert and rugged areas between the two provinces, Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces said in a statement.
So far, the troops have managed to kill two IS militants and destroy three of their hideouts and a number of tunnels, along with destroying a booby-trapped car and various weapons and ammunition, Rasoul said.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, paid a visit to the headquarters of the Joint Operations Command in Kirkuk, some 250 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, and immediately held a meeting with the commanders to supervise the offensive, Rasoul added.
The offensive was designed to bring stability and security to the area, which has recently been a hot bed for IS militants, Rasoul said.
Recently, the extremist IS militants have intensified their attacks on the security forces, including Hashd Shaabi forces, and civilians in the formerly IS-controlled Sunni provinces, resulting in the killing and wounding of dozens.
The security situation in Iraq has been improving since Iraqi security forces fully defeated the IS militants across the country late in 2017.
However, IS remnants have since melted in urban areas or deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians. Enditem