By Arif Yusuf and Ali Jawad
Iraqi forces on Saturday captured the Hamrin mountains in northern Iraq from the Daesh terrorist group, according to the Iraqi military.
In a statement, Army Lieutenant-General Abdul-Amir Yarallah said the Daesh-held mountainous ridge has been seized by Iraqi troops and allied Hashd al-Shaabi forces.
The Hamrin mountains extend through the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk and Salahaddin, right up to the borders with Iran and Syria.
The Hamrin basin contains the Hamrin lake, the south and east sides of which are under the control of the Iraqi army. The north and east are under the control of the Kurdish forces.
The mountainous area has been used by Daesh group as a main passage for its military and logistic supplies.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Army Captain Jabbar Hassan said Iraqi forces had killed 12 Daesh militants during the fight to retake the mountains.
He said Iraqi warplanes had destroyed several Daesh positions during the operation.
After overrunning vast territories in both Iraq and Syria in mid-2014, Daesh has recently suffered a string of defeats at the hands of the Iraqi military and a U.S.-led coalition.
In August, the group lost Tal Afar in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province. And one month earlier, the city of Mosul -- once the capital of Daesh’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” -- fell to the army after a nine-month siege.