Iraq Forces Launch Operation To Retake Western Area
BAGHDAD, Jan 5, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 05th Jan, 2017 ) - Iraqi forces on Thursday launched an offensive aimed at retaking towns still under the control of the Islamic State group in western areas near the border with Syria, commanders said.
"A military operation has begun in the western areas of Anbar to liberate them from Daesh," said Lieutenant General Qassem Mohammedi, commander of the Jazeera Operations Command, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
He said the operation was led by the army's 7th division, police, and fighters from local tribes that have opposed the jihadists, with aerial backing from the US-led coalition. The main targets of the operation are Aanah, Rawa and Al-Qaim, the westernmost Iraqi towns along the Euphrates Valley.
"Zero hour has come to liberate the western areas," Nadhom al-Jughaifi, a commander with the Haditha tribal fighters, said. In 2016, Iraqi forces retook large parts of the vast province of Anbar, including its capital Ramadi and the city of Fallujah.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces are currently involved in an offensive to retake Mosul, the main northern city which is also IS's last major stronghold in the country. IS has lost more than half of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and the loss of Mosul would deal a major blow to the "caliphate" it proclaimed there in June 2014.