Iraqi forces flush out Daesh terrorists from desert hideouts in major offensive
Iraqi army soldiers, supported by allied fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, have liberated dozens of villages across the country as they are engaged in a large-scale military operation to dislodge Daesh Takfiri terrorists from their hideouts in the desert.
The commander of Upper Euphrates and al-Jazira Liberation Operations, Major General Abdul Amir Yarallah, said on Thursday that pro-government fighters, better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, had established control over Sheikhan and Sheikhanah villages south of al-Hatra district in the northern province of Nineveh, Arabic-language al-Forat news agency reported.
The 26th brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi also managed to retake an air base southwest of Hatra.
Additionally, the units of the 9th Armored Division as well as the 2nd brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi retook the Malaha area of Baiji district in the northern province of Salahuddin.
On Thursday noon, the 11th brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi managed to liberate Zubaidah village in al-Jazira region.
Furthermore, fighters from the 2nd brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi recaptured the villages of Abdullah al-Abidi and Sabiha al-Badou in Badiya region.
Later in the day, Yarallah stated that government forces and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had seized back 77 villages in the second phase of the offensive aimed at clearing the vast desert near the border with Syria, which extends to northern provinces of Nineveh and Salahuddin and the western province of Anbar.
The forces ended the first phase of the offensive on November 17, when they drove out Daesh extremists from the latter’s last urban stronghold in Iraq and raised the Iraqi flag over buildings in the western town of Rawah and nearby border areas north of the Euphrates River.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the newly-liberated town of Qa’im and the nearby Husaybah border crossing in far western Iraq on November 5, and raised the Iraqi flag at the border crossing.
On October 5, Abadi said Iraqi armed forces had liberated Hawijah, driving Daesh Takfiris out of their last bastion in the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.
The Iraqi prime minister said on August 31 that the northwestern city of Tal Afar, located 200 kilometers northwest of Kirkuk, and the entire Nineveh province had been purged of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
The recapture of Tal Afar was made possible with the help of the Iraqi army, Federal Police, Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) units, Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and the Interior Ministry’s elite rapid response forces, the Iraqi prime minister stated.
On July 10, Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.
In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.