Iraqi forces have started operations to clear al-Qaim from the remnants of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) after the city's liberation last week, the Anbar Operations Command said Monday (November 6th).
Iraqi forces Friday captured al-Qaim, the biggest town under the group's control in Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi said, driving another nail into the coffin of ISIS's self-styled caliphate, AFP reported.
Al-Abbadi hailed the "liberation of al-Qaim in record time" in a statement, just hours after Iraqi troops backed up by local Sunni tribal fighters entered the key town on the border with Syria.
The fall of al-Qaim leaves ISIS fighters in Iraq holding just the smaller neighbouring town of Rawa and surrounding pockets of barren desert along the Euphrates river.
After completing the comb and search operations for potential ISIS elements, Iraqi forces on Monday started removing explosives and rockets and dismantling houses and vehicles rigged with explosives, said Command spokesman Col. Mohammed al-Dulaimi.
"We estimate there are more than 10 tonnes of explosives, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), explosives-filled barrels, rockets, locally-made bombs and various weapons and ammunition," he told Diyaruna.
The weapons will be removed outside the liberated town pending their disposal, he said.
"After that, we will start cleaning the city and spraying it with insecticides... before allowing the residents to return," he said.