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Iraqi forces launch major offensive to recapture western towns



Iraqi army soldiers, backed by fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units, have started an offensive to retake towns and areas in the troubled western province of Anbar from Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

“A military operation has begun in the western areas of Anbar to liberate them from Daesh,” Major General Qassem Mohammedi, commander of Jazeera Operations Command, said on Thursday.

He said the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division, police personnel and pro-government fighters – commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi – are involved in the military campaign.

Iraqi army soldiers and their allies plan to liberate the towns of Anah, Rawa and al-Qaim on the Euphrates River, and the most immediate objective of the new offensive is Anah, situated 258 kilometers northwest of the capital Baghdad.

“Our forces started advancing from Haditha towards Anah from several directions,” Mohammedi noted.

Nadhom al-Jughaifi, a commander with the Haditha tribal fighters, said zero hour had come to liberate the western areas.

Iraqi soldiers and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have liberated large parts of Anbar over the past months. They won back the city of Falluja, located roughly 69 kilometers west of Baghdad on the Euphrates, in mid-June 2016.

Members of Iraq’s elite Rapid Response Division take position as they look for a suspected car bomb in Mosul’s southeastern al-Mithaq neighborhood Jan. 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi government forces and their allies retook the provincial city of Ramadi on December 28, 2015, and raised the national flag above the government complex there. Ramadi had fallen to Daesh extremists in May that year.

Iraqi troops are currently involved in a joint and multi-pronged operation to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists. The liberation offensive started on October 17 last year.


Car bomb kills eight people in eastern Baghdad

Meanwhile, at least eight people lost their lives and more than a dozen others sustained injuries when a car bomb struck an area in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, Iraqi security and medical officials said.

The officials said the explosives-laden car was parked near an outdoor fruit and vegetable market in al-Obaidi neighborhood.

Iraqis inspect a charred vehicle on the site of a bomb attack in Sadr City, northeast of the capital Baghdad, on January 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but it bears the hallmark of those carried out by Daesh terrorists.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) announced in a statement on Tuesday that at least 6,878 Iraqi civilians were killed last year as a result of the ongoing violence in the Arab country. Another 12,388 people were injured.

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