On Thursday, May 7, Iraqi forces launched multiple security operations against Islamic State (IS) militant positions in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. The operations come in response to a series of IS attacks in previous weeks, primarily against security forces in Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salahuddin provinces. Local media outlets report that security forces are conducting operations in Hawz al-Waqf (Diyala province), as well as in the Riyadh and Rashad territories of Al-Hawija district (Kirkuk province).
An increasing number of IS attacks have recently been reported in Iraq. Throughout the month of March, IS claimed responsibility for 59 attacks nationwide. Between Wednesday, April 1, and Saturday, April 25, the group claimed 97 attacks, 27 of which were carried out in Kirkuk.
A heightened security presence is to be expected in Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salahuddin provinces for the duration of the operations. Retaliatory attacks by IS militants are likely in Iraq over the near term.
Iraq declared victory over IS in December 2017 after a three-year military campaign against the group; however, IS militants have continued to carry out a series of attacks, notably against security forces, in recent weeks. High-profile attacks often prompt equally significant security responses, including enhanced checkpoint operations and more proactive operations, with resulting effects on transit.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity, avoid the vicinities of the abovementioned security operations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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