WORLD Iraqi forces gain more ground in last IS stronghold in western Iraq

WORLD

Iraqi forces gain more ground in last IS stronghold in western Iraq

Xinhua

23:08, October 31, 2017

BAGHDAD - Iraqi security forces on Tuesday liberated a town and nine villages as they are pushing into the last stronghold of Islamic State (IS) militants near the border with Syria in Iraq's western province of Anbar, the Iraqi military said.

The Iraqi army and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi brigades took control of the town of Ubiedi and nearby residential complex in the east of the border city of al-Qaim, some 330 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, after they defeated the extremist militants in the town, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, Commander of Liberation of West Anbar Operations, said in a statement.

The troops also seized a total of nine villages scattered outside the town of Ubiedi, in addition to large areas of Akkaz gas field southeast of al-Qaim, the statement said.

On Oct. 26, the security forces initiated their advance towards the last IS stronghold in Iraq near the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Meanwhile, the troops managed to make a significant progress toward the IS-held city of Rawa, about 80 km east of al-Qaim, and took positions outside the southern edges of the city.

The security forces still have to take control of areas around the IS-held cities of Rawa and al-Qaim before they push into the last IS urban strongholds in Iraq. Later, the troops will have to continue clearing the vast rural areas and desert in north of the Euphrates River.

The IS militants seized large swaths of territory in Iraq in 2014. After three years of battles, the Iraqi forces have retaken most of the occupied areas from the terrorist group, including the country's second largest city Mosul.

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