Shafaq News/ Iraq's military has established a security cordon around dozens of villages inside a "hot territory" in Diyala, a commander of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces-PMF) revealed on Tuesday.
Authorities in Iraq use the term "hot territory" to imply that the area in question is infested by terrorist groups.
"Forces from the police and the army, along with five PMF brigades ha encircled 25 villages between the sub-districts of Abi Saida and al-Abbara, 25 kilometers to the northeast of Baqubah," PMF commander Mohammad al-Tamimi told Shafaq News Agency, "the plan includes building revealing road on the banks of the Diyala river, deploying security checkpoints, and destroying dozens of ISIS hideouts in the orchards and agricultural lands."
"The operations managed to successfully uncover security blankets in the areas devoid of security presence," he concluded.
Diyala, which stretches from the Iranian border to just north of the capital, Baghdad, is crossed by the Hamrin mountain chain, infamous for its longstanding use as a hideout for insurgent groups even before ISIS existed.
It was east of Diyala's capital city, Baquba, that the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq at that time, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a 2006 airstrike.
In recent years, Diyala has been one of the Iraqi governorates with the highest number of attacks by ISIS cells.
While security issues have been left to fester in the governorate and must be addressed, there are also major concerns about sectarian killings.
Sunni Arabs in general across Iraq experienced major displacement during ISIS occupation of their hometowns and the subsequent fight against the international terrorist group, victory against which in the country was declared by the Iraqi government in December 2017.
Many from areas previously under ISIS control have still not returned home almost five years later, or have no homes to return to. In some cases, such as Jurf al-Sakr (now renamed Jurf al-Nasr), they are not being allowed back into the area by Shiite armed forces that have claimed the area for themselves.
Such situations — which has deprived many of their lives, homes and livelihoods — are being used for propaganda purposes by ISIS or others seeking to place collective blame on already suffering communities.