Iraqi Forces Announce Liberation of 45 Villages from Isis
Iraqi forces have liberated 45 villages as part of a major operation to oust Islamic State (ISIS) militants from their last holdouts in Al-Jazeera region and north of the Euphrates valley.
Military commander Lt Gen Abdul Amir Yarallah said that during the combing operation now in its third day, around 2,400 square kilometers have been regained from the ultra-hardline group.
“Two vehicles and five motorcycles belonging to Daesh were destroyed, in addition to exploding five bomb-laden vehicles and defusing 450 booby traps,” said Yarallah, referring to Islamic State by its Arabic name.
According to Yarallah, two car bomb factories were blown up since the launch of the offensive on Thursday morning.
The militants have been driven out of all of the towns they once held, but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he will not proclaim victory until they have been fully cleared from the western desert region bordering Syria.
Those remaining have withdrawn deep into the desert to escape the search by the Iraqi forces.
The U.S.-led coalition, which has provided air support for other offensives against ISIS in Iraq, said it carried out no strikes on Thursday.
At its peak in 2014, ISIS ruled over seven million people in a territory as large as Italy encompassing large parts of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq.
It is now being flushed out of its last desert hideouts in Iraq and is under attack by Russian-backed government forces and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in its last pockets of control in Syria.