SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdish security forces detained a group of Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Erbil, authorities said on Monday.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement that its units had detained five ISIS members planning to carry out “terrorist acts” in Erbil.
“Accurate information was obtained that Haji Abdulla, caliph of Daesh [ISIS] terrorist group, had ordered Harith, Wali of North/Kurdistan, and Abu Walid, emir of north state’s security, to carry out terrorist acts,” the Region’s security council added.
“The terrorists were discovered straight away and all terrorists of the cell were detained in a successful operation,” it stated.
The group planned to carry out the attacks with “planted bombs and silencers” in Erbil, according to the statement.
It stated that two members of the group entered the Kurdistan Region through Iran in February after they were smuggled into Turkey from Syria then to Iran.
The Region’s security council named the five as Yasr Ali Ahmed Nweeran known as Abu Amar, Majid Hassan Salih Sayl known as Ali, Hassan Ali Izan Hamad known as Saaud, Firas Hassan Hamoudi and Mukhlid Ibrahim Mohammed Shafi.
The federal government announced victory over ISIS by the end of 2017 after Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led Coalition regained control of areas once captured by the militant group.
Despite its defeat, ISIS still poses a threat to the security and stability of the country as there are still sleeper cells in Iraq.
Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in a tweet that he was concerned that the Region’s intelligence pointed to ISIS operating from al-Hol camp northeast Syria, indicating that the militant group is “still capable of crossing borders illegally”.
“Our brave security forces have successfully foiled an ISIS terror plot in Erbil following a months-long operation. The cell — organized and directed from Syria — has been dismantled and its members are now in custody as the investigation continues,” he tweeted.
He urged the U.S.-led Coalition forces and the Region’s partners to recognize the seriousness of the threat to peace and stability.
“I want to reassure our people and visitors to Kurdistan of their continued safety,” he said.
“Our security services work around the clock to protect every community from terrorism and violence. I commend the swift and determined action of our forces — their selfless commitment makes us one of the safest places in the Middle East.”
*This story was updated at 08:18 p.m. EBL time