Iraqi forces battling the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in western Iraq have on Monday (January 9th) retaken the two Anbar province villages of al-Mashak and al-Matbaj, the Anbar Operations Command said.
"Iraqi forces liberated the two villages after swift and violent battles in which ISIL fighters had to withdraw after just six hours of clashes with our forces," Anbar operations commander Maj. Gen. Ismail al-Mahalawi told Diyaruna.
The recapture of these two villages, located between Haditha and ISIL-controlled Anah, "is extremely important as our forces will use them as a base for advancing to liberate Anah and the other cities which are still under ISIL control", he said.
The operations to retake Anah, Rawa and al-Qaim from ISIL have killed 52 extremist fighters in the past few days, according to the Joint Operations Command.
In co-ordination with the Joint Operations Command and the Iraqi Air Force, the Interior Ministry’s Falcons Intelligence Cell on January 5th-6th launched accurate and effective strikes targeting ISIL remnants near Haditha, the command said in a statement.
"An airstrike near Haditha targeted a tactical ISIL site -- a hideout used by suicide bombers -- killing nine ... and their leader Abu Doaa al-Jazrawi," the statement said.
"Another airstrike was carried out in Rawa's al-Shishan neighbourhood, killing 20 ISIL elements," it said.
"One of the most senior elements killed in this airstrike was Abu Talha al-Ozbakistani," the statement said.
An airstrike in al-Qaim's Tiwan neighbourhood targeted a workshop for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) -- known as Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi workshop -- killing eight ISIL elements, it said.
The statement said one of the dead was senior ISIL element Murad Sabah Awwad al-Fa’ouri Abi Suleiman al-Iraqi.
The airstrikes also destroyed a rest house belonging to the "so-called wilayat al-Furat and Baghdad" in al-Qaim, killing 15 ISIL terrorists and wounding two others, the statement said.
"One of the most senior elements killed was Omar Hamidi, also known as Abu Azzam, who was in charge of the rest house," it said.