Iraqi forces killed one suspect described as a leading figure in the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, and arrested five other suspects in a series of security raids in Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Baghdad provinces, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday (October 13th).
Security officials said the operations were based on intelligence data obtained by Iraqi forces and information provided by Iraqi citizens.
"The Iraqi army scored a new victory on Thursday in its war against terror," said Col. Bahjat Amer al-Obaidi, spokesperson for the Salah al-Din Operations Command.
Al-Obaidi said a unit from the Iraqi army's 5th division, backed by a police force, raided a stronghold of al-Qaeda members in the Shirgat area, north of Tikrit, after obtaining precise information on the presence of suspects.
"When the Iraqi forces tried to storm the building, they came under heavy gunfire from the terrorists," he told Mawtani. "Clashes with them lasted more than an hour and ended with the killing of the terrorist Ahmad Haweejah, known as Abul Widad al-Baghdadi, who is a leading and dangerous figure in al-Qaeda."
According to al-Obaidi, al-Baghdadi was the mastermind of the attack that targeted the Salah al-Din Provincial Council headquarters a few months ago, which killed and injured scores of civilians and security men, as well as an attack that struck the police recruiting center, which also killed and injured many citizens.
The raiding force detained three suspects described as assistants to al-Baghdadi.
Al-Obaidi said security forces also uncovered a stockpile of rockets, a car bomb, and 57 improvised explosive devices and sticky bombs.
In the Taji district, Iraqi security forces arrested Oday al-Faris, a terrorist who had escaped from the Tikrit prison.
"The terrorist had been sentenced to jail in connection with his involvement in launching terrorist attacks in Salah al-Din province, and he finally fell in the hands of justice," al-Obaidi said.
In Ninewa province, Maj. Gen. Ali Jassem al-Furaiji, commander of the Iraqi army's 2nd division, said Iraqi forces launched a security campaign in Mosul that led to the arrest of Ismael Zawbaa, who he described as an al-Qaeda leader.
"The terrorist is the mufti of al-Qaeda in Ninewa province, the man who would be asked to give the green light for al-Qaeda attacks and the one who signed the death sentences of the innocents," al-Furaiji said.
Lt. Col. Jaber Naji Sabbar of the Mosul police said Zawbaa gave important information during his initial interrogation on terrorist attacks launched in Ninewa and in a number of other Iraqi provinces.
"We are working on verifying the information to check its validity, and if true, it would mean this terrorist and his group were involved in terrorist attacks against innocent citizens."
Hassan al-Sunaid, chairman of the Iraqi parliament's defense and security committee, called on Iraqi forces to continue their security operations and pursuit of terrorists throughout Iraq.
"The terrorists must be dealt a severe lesson," he told Mawtani.