Iraqi security forces, supported by pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have started an operation to clear remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from villages near the country’s oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk.

The Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, in a statement released on Sunday, announced that the counter-terrorism offensive was mounted “upon accurate intelligence reports to purge villages in the Riyadh district, southwest of Kirkuk, from Daesh militants.”

The statement added that members of the federal police, backed by Iraqi Air Force fighter jets and fighters from the 2nd, 11th, 16th and 41st brigades of volunteer forces, better known by the Arabic word Hasd al-Sha’abi, are taking part in the operation.

“Intelligence reports indicate that many Daesh militants are hiding in villages in the Riyadh district, and they are planning to carry out terrorist attacks there,” the statement pointed out.

Kirkuk officials have frequently demanded reinforcements in the southern and western parts of the province, where Daesh remnants have taken refuge following the liberation of Hawija district, located 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk.

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.