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.