Iraqi Forces in Renewed anti-ISIL Push in Eastern Anbar
Iraqi forces retook two villages in Anbar on Monday as part of their operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant terrorist group in the western province, security officials said.
“The security forces were able to advance and liberate the areas of Albu Shijil and Shiha near Khaldiyah, between Saqlawiya and Ramadi,” an army lieutenant colonel said. He said the operation was made possible by the fact that anti-ISIL forces had trapped the terrorists inside their stronghold of Fallujah, further east.
A top official from the Khaldiyah area, Ibrahim al-Fahdawi, confirmed the liberation of the two villages in the Euphrates Valley.
Iraq’s joint operations command trumpeted the launch of “operations to liberate Anbar” at 5:00 am (0200 GMT) but provided few details. “Your armed forces, Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization), special operations (forces), federal police and tribesmen, are engaging in the liberation operations and advancing towards the set targets,” a statement said.
The Popular Mobilization said its forces were advancing northeast of Fallujah, an ISIL bastion which has escaped government control since early 2014 and where US troops faced the toughest battles of their eight-year occupation.
Iraqi security forces, Popular Mobilization forces and Sunni tribesmen have been fighting ISIL around Fallujah and Ramadi for months.
Operations to liberate Anbar, the vast western Iraqi province which is largely controlled by ISIL, have been previously announced.