US-Iraqi forces arrest suspected members of Daesh funding network

IRBIL, Iraq: A joint U.S. coalition task force and Iraqi special forces have arrested 10 suspected members of a network that funded Daesh in Baghdad and the northern city of Irbil, the coalition said Thursday.

The task force carried out raids from October 7 to 9 and arrested suspected members of the Rawi financial network, which acted as a “financial facilitation group” for activists, the coalition said in a statement.

“The arrests are a major blow to the ability of the Islamic State (Daesh) to threaten and terrorize civilians,” said Major General Patrick B. Roberson, commander of Special Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

“This demonstrates that those who aid, sponsor or provide financial, material or technological support to ISIS will suffer serious consequences.”

Iraq declared victory over the militant group in December after recapturing swaths of territory it held, but its fighters have since waged a campaign of kidnappings and killings.

Separately, an army officer was killed and three soldiers were captured in western Iraq after militants attacked their vehicle, security sources said Thursday.

The attack took place on Wednesday evening in the town of Akaz, 5 km from Qaim district of Anbar province. The unit was delivering food to other troops, the sources told Reuters.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack but Daesh militants are active in the area.

Usually militants kill soldiers and capture officers they consider higher value targets, the sources said, but the reverse happened on Wednesday night.

At least eight people were killed and 12 injured in a suicide car bomb attack on a security checkpoint in the same area last August.

Security forces retook Qaim, which lies 300 km west of Baghdad in the Sunni province of Anbar, on the border with Syria, in November. It was one of the last Iraqi territories held by Daesh.

The group’s fighters have since waged a campaign of killings and kidnappings.

In another development, the Iraqi government has appointed Oil Minister Jabar Al-Luaibi to head a new national oil company that will serve as an umbrella organization for state oil companies, a spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday. word of the Ministry of Petroleum.

Parliament voted in March to create the company, which is supposed to manage operations upstream from Iraq, freeing up the ministry to define plans and strategies for the development of the sector.

The decision was passed unanimously in Cabinet last week, spokesman Asim Jihad said. The positions of oil minister and head of the National Oil Company are unrelated, he added.

“The nomination decision was made for many reasons, including Luaibi’s experience,” Jihad said. Luaibi will also remain oil minister in Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s outgoing government, he said.

Iraqi President Barham Salih appointed former oil minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi as prime minister-designate earlier this month and tasked him with forming a new government. It is unclear whether Luaibi will remain after this.

“The issue of selecting a new minister is the responsibility of the Prime Minister-designate. Anything is possible, we will wait and see,” Jihad said.

Luaibi remains minister until a new government is formed and approved by parliament, he said.

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