Iraqi government forces, backed by Shia volunteer forces, have stepped up their offensive to liberate the strategic northern city of Baiji from the ISIL Takfiri militants.
On Wednesday, Iraqi forces, supported by army helicopters, advanced to within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of the oil-rich city, located some 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, in a new push to flush out ISIL terrorists from the area, which has been under siege since June.
Meanwhile, Iraqi troops have swept through a desert area to the west of Baiji in the hope that they can choke off ISIL supply lines, and gain control of a road leading to the northern city of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Baghdad.
The ISIL terrorists, in return, have been using roadside bombs and snipers to slow down the Iraqi army’s progress.
The new military operations around Baiji come shortly after Iraqi soldiers, backed by Shia volunteers, successfully drove out the last batch of ISIL Takfiri terrorists from the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, which sits on a major road linking Baghdad to oil-rich provinces in the south.
Iraqi army soldiers have been fighting the ISIL terrorists for nearly six months now. The troops have pledged to make more gains in their battle against the extremist group, which has large swathes of land under control in Iraq and Syria.
The ISIL militants have committed terrible atrocities in the two neighboring Arab countries, including mass executions and beheadings of local residents as well as foreign nationals.