Iraq Military Operations to Liberate Anbar begins
Iraqi forces retook territory from the Islamic State group east of Ramadi Saturday, in their first counterattack since the fall of the Anbar provincial capital a week ago, commanders said.
The offensive targeted the Euphrates Valley town of Husaybah, an essential stepping stone for any assault on Ramadi.
“Military operations to liberate Husaybah, seven kilometres east of Ramadi, have begun,” a police colonel told AFP from the front.
“So far, the Husaybah police station was liberated, as well as the area around it. The operation is making significant progress,” he said on condition of anonymity .
The launch of offensive operations was confirmed by the leader of the main tribal force in the area, Sheikh Rafia Abdelkarim al-Fahdawi.
“The operation to take back Husaybah has started, with wide participation from tribal fighters,” the head of the Albu Fahd tribe told AFP.
“The security forces are advancing and they already retook a wide area,” he said.
The police colonel said the operation involved local and federal police, the interior ministry’s rapid intervention force, regular army troops, Popular Mobilisation (Hashed al-Shaabi) paramilitary forces and tribal fighters.
ISIS fighters seized Ramadi in a deadly three day-blitz last week and tried to use its momentum to gain more ground east of the city.
According to reports on Friday, the Iraqi army liberated Khalidiya after flushing ISIL Takfiri terrorists out of the city.
Earlier on Friday, an Iraqi official announced that army forces, backed by volunteers, are set to launch an operation in the near future to retake the central city of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, from the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.
The liberation of Khalidiya came a day after Iraqi troops, backed by volunteer forces, broke the siege on the embattled Baiji refinery in the northern province of Salahuddin, liberating some 300 soldiers in the process.
A spokesman for the Iraqi military also confirmed the full retaking of the refinery, which lies some 40 kilometers north of the Iraqi city of Tikrit in Salahuddin.