On Saturday, July 11, Iraqi and Kurdish security forces launched the fourth phase of the operation 'Heroes of Iraq', aimed at eliminating the presence of Islamic State (IS) militants in the country. This phase of the operation will center on Diyala Governorate, between Erbil and Baghdad, with a particular focus on the border area between Iraq and Iran. It will also attempt to seek out IS militants in the disputed area that lies between Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga, which has been exploited by IS as it has been poorly patrolled. The previous phases of 'Heroes of Iraq' have taken place in Salahaddin, Anbar, Nineveh, and Kirkuk governorates.
A heightened security presence is to be expected for the duration of the operation. Retaliatory attacks by IS militants throughout Iraq are likely.
Iraq declared victory over IS in December 2017 after a three-year military campaign against it; however, IS militants continue to carry out attacks, notably against security forces. High-profile attacks often prompt equally significant security responses, including enhanced checkpoint operations and more proactive operations, with resulting effects on transit. There has been an increase in attacks in recent months, with the governorate of Diyala bearing the brunt of these attacks.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity 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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