On Monday, June 22, Iraqi security forces launched the third phase of Operation Heroes of Iraq. The aim of the operation is to clear Islamic State (IS) remnants from the provinces of Salahaddin, Diyala, Samarra, and Kirkuk, and involves the Iraqi Ground Forces, police, intelligence services, and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The first two phases of the operation took place in Anbar, Nineveh, Salahaddin, and Kirkuk provinces.
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 IS claiming 52 attacks in Iraq between June 11 and June 17 alone. The province of Diyala has borne 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.