Iraqi security forces have began a large-scale security operation to clear areas in western Iraq from the Islamic State (IS) militants, the Iraqi military said. The operation is designed to hunt down the remnants of the extremist militants in the vast desert area between the provinces of Salahudin, Nineveh and Anbar, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul, spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said in a statement on Saturday, Xinhua reported. The security forces will advance westward to the Iraqi-Syrian border, the statement said. Late last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, also commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, emphasized in a statement "the importance of continuing precautionary efforts and keeping track of terrorist groups to secure the border with Syria." Meanwhile, a leader of the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi said in a statement that reinforcements had been dispatched to the border with Syria after the IS militant group seized positions of Syrian Democratic Forces on the Syrian side near the border. The Iraqi forces, backed by Hashd Shaabi forces, have been deployed in the desert area for months to secure the Iraqi side of the border and prevent infiltration of IS militants from Syria to Iraq.