BAGHDAD: Daesh militants in Iraq admitted on Saturday that they killed at least three people and injured more than 30 when a motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated near a Shiite mosque south of the capital, Baghdad.
The bomb exploded on a commercial street in the village of Mussayyib. Daesh said it targeted “gatherings of Shiites” near the mosque.
Iraq declared victory against Daesh in late 2017, but the group continues to carry out terrorist attacks through sleeper cells, particularly in the north.
The Iraqi military said on Saturday it had launched a new operation targeting Daesh hideouts and sleeper cells in western Anbar province.
There are certainly places where Daesh are more powerful today than they were three or four years ago.
Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state
The military said the operation aimed to “search and clear” wide desert areas in the province that borders Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned last week that Daesh militants were gaining strength in some areas, but he said the group’s capacity to conduct attacks had been greatly diminished.
“It’s complicated,” Pompeo said, responding to reports that the militant group was gaining new strength in Iraq and Syria. “There are certainly places where Daesh are more powerful today than they were three or four years ago.”
He said the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate was gone and its attack capability had been made much more difficult.
However, he cautioned that there was always risk that there would be a resurgence of “radical Islamist terrorist groups,” such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh.