Iraq News

Iraqi forces seize village in one of last ISIS bastions



Iraqi forces fire preliminary shells from the area of al-Sakrah, as they prepare a military operation to push the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' from the nearby town of Anah in Anbar province on September 12th. [Moadh al-Dulaimi/AFP]

Iraqi security forces on Tuesday (September 19th) seized a village in one of the last pockets of territory controlled by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in the vast western province of Anbar, bordering Syria.

"Our forces have taken the whole of al-Rayhanna village, attacking from three directions, and have killed seven terrorists," an Iraqi colonel told AFP.

Some ISIS fighters had fled towards the town of Anah, "eight kilometres to the west, which is our next objective", he said.

The Joint Operations Command co-ordinating the fight against ISIS in Iraq said infantry and armoured units launched the assault at dawn to retake al-Rayhanna and the nearby town of Anah.

The operation was supported by Iraqi army helicopters and warplanes from the coalition battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a general in the area said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Anah municipal council head Abdel Karim al-Ani confirmed Iraqi forces had taken control of al-Rayhanna and raised the Iraqi flag on public buildings.

The colonel said coalition aircraft had destroyed a suicide car bomb driven by an extremist who was trying to reach security forces to detonate the vehicle.

Anah, about 100 kilometres east of the border with Syria, is one of three towns in Anbar province still under ISIS control.

After retaking the town, Iraqi forces are expected to target Rawa to the north-west and finally al-Qaim, which is close to the border with the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor.

Three years after ISIS took control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, Iraqi forces are pushing to retake all areas seized by the group, scoring their biggest victory in July with the recapture of Mosul.

Iraq is preparing to launch an assault against another of the group's final strongholds, the Anbar province town of al-Hawija.

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