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Iraqi forces launch op to free town in western Anbar Province

16 May 2016 12:03



Iraqi military forces and volunteer fighters have launched an operation to liberate the town of Rutbah in western Anbar Province from the Daesh terrorist group, the army says.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a Monday statement that special forces, army soldiers, police, border guards and volunteer Popular Mobilization units are involved in the operation to recapture the town, which has been held by the terror group since the summer of 2014.

Tanks and artillery are participating in the offensive, which is also supported by Iraqi military aircraft, it said.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have seen violence by Daesh since the group began an offensive in Iraqi territory in June 2014.

In recent months, Daesh has been pushed out of much of the land it previously captured in Iraq in 2014. The terrorist group has suffered heavy losses in numerous offensives by the Iraqi army and popular forces.

Iraqi forces have regained control of large parts of Anbar, including the provincial capital, Ramadi, and the town of Hit, but some parts of the province, including its second-largest city Fallujah, are still under Daesh control.

Members of the Iraqi civil defense spray and clean areas in the northern town of Taza, which was reportedly targeted by a Daesh chemical attack, March 13, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Daesh chemical attacks

Meanwhile, Australian deputy commander of international troops in Iraq Brigadier Roger Noble warned on Saturday that Daesh could use chemical weapons against the Iraqi forces who are trying to close in on the terrorist-held northern city of Mosul.

“Chemical weapons are part of the equation and the Iraqi army plans for and operates with that as part of the equation. They would expect the full raft of enemy capabilities to be employed,” he said.

Daesh has reportedly been trying to produce chemical weapons and is thought to have formed a special unit for chemical weapons research. Iraqi scientists working for executed dictator Saddam Hussein as well as foreign experts are said to be working for the terror group.

The extremist group has frequently used chemical weapons, including chlorine and mustard gas, in its attacks on Kurdish people in northern Iraq.

On May 9, Kurdish sources said the terrorists launched several mortar rounds containing chlorine gas at the village of Bashir in Kirkuk Province. Scores of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters suffered temporary respiratory problems and nausea in the assault.

Back in March, Daesh militants launched two chemical attacks near Kirkuk, killing a three-year-old girl and wounding hundreds of people.

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