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.
fightersThe offensive targeted the Euphrates Valley town of Husaybah, an essential stepping stone for any assault on Ramadi.
“Military operations to liberate Husaybah, seven kilometres (4.5 miles) 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 Mobilization (Hashed al-Shaabi) paramilitary forces and tribal fighters.