Iraq launches major operation against IS remnants following abductions
Iraq launched on Wednesday a major operation against remnants of the Islamic State following public outcry after the bodies of abducted civilians killed by the group were discovered late last month.
Dubbed "Vengeance for the Martyrs," the operation will see army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down IS cells in the centre of the country, Iraq's Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
The bodies of eight captives were found late June along a highway north of Baghdad. Some of the abductees had appeared in a video in which IS threatened to execute them unless Baghdad released female prisoners.
The operation was being supported by the Iraqi air force and the US-led coalition that intervened against IS in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
One IS fighter had already been killed and eight captured, the JOC said, and equipment including vehicles and bombs destroyed.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi previously declared victory over IS in December after expelling the group from all major towns and cities in a vast offensive.
But the Iraqi military has kept up operations targeting mostly remote desert areas from where IS has continued to carry out attacks.
On Friday, Iraqi authorities executed a dozen convicted jihadists as swift retaliation for the killings.
More than 300 people, including 100 foreign women, have been sentenced to death in Iraq and hundreds of others to life imprisonment for membership of IS.
Human Rights Watch has urged Iraq's judiciary to deal with foreign women and children affiliated with IS on a case-by-case basis instead of slapping them with "one size fits all" sentences.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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