Iraqi forces on Friday (September 22nd) took back the city of Anah, one of the few remaining "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) strongholds in Anbar.
The new victory comes as Iraqi forces press on with a major military operation that began a week ago to drive ISIS from the westernmost part of the country.
Iraqi forces have been conducting the operation along two axes.
They moved north from the city of al-Rutba, taking back the town of Akashat en route, and are now approaching the city of al-Qaim from the south.
And they moved west from al-Sakra in western Haditha towards Anah.
Units from al-Jazeera Operations Command, the army, and tribesmen from the Upper Euphrates and Western Brigades are taking part in the operation, said Anbar provincial council member Karim al-Karbouli.
The Iraqi air force and coalition are providing air support, he told Diyaruna.
The forces heading west from Haditha on Tuesday succeeded in liberating the district of al-Rayhanna from ISIS, he said.
"Then they made their way westward and were able to push into Anah, reach the government compound, and then take back the whole city," he said.
The advancing forces have not met with significant resistance from ISIS, whose fighters have fled towards the neighbouring city of Rawa, al-Karbouli said.
Triple suicide attack thwarted
ISIS launched an attack on Thursday evening, using three trucks driven by suicide bombers, to impede the advance of the security forces in Anah.
But coalition warplanes were able to destroy two vehicles, while the army destroyed the third from a distance, thwarting the attack, al-Karbouli said.
Iraqi engineering teams have managed to blow up hundreds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines planted by ISIS on both sides of the road from al-Rayhanna district to Anah, he added.
Hundreds of other IEDs planted around the city also have been detonated.
These explosives have hindered the units’ progress to some extent, al-Karbouli said, but the task ultimately has been accomplished, and ISIS has been driven out of its key strongholds in western Anbar.
"The liberation of Anah is a severe blow to the organisation, which is suffering from a complete collapse in its ranks and in its fighters’ morale," he said.
The Upper Euphrates Brigade, comprised of western Anbar tribesmen, has been providing support to the advancing troops, said brigade leader Sheikh Mohammed Hamad al-Dulaimi.
"Our fighters are charging forwards with great enthusiasm in the fight to restore their areas and to eliminate the ISIS gangs," he told Diyaruna.
After Anah is retaken, the units will head to Rawa and then al-Qaim, where the great liberation battle will take place, al-Dulaimi said.