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The New Arab

Iraqi forces move to liberate Anbar town from IS

Iraqi forces wages operations to recapture ground from the militants [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2016

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Iraqi security forces and allied fighters launch an operation to retake the town of Rutba from the Islamic State militants on Monday.

Iraqi forces and allied fighters launched on Monday a large-scale military operation to retake the strategic town of Rutba in the Anbar province from Islamic State group militants.

The military operation took off early in the morning, led by the Iraqi security forces, local police, the counter-terrorism forces and allied tribesmen, Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

The operation is backed by air support from US-led coalition against IS and the Iraqi air forces, the statement added.

Rutba, located in western Anbar province along the main road to Jordan, has been held by the militant group since 2014.

The town is a strategic route to other territories held by the group, member of the allied tribesmen Mansour al-Mahlawi told The New Arab.

But the fight will be tough as IS militants planted mines and explosives on the town's outskirts, Mahlawi added.

The militant group had overrun large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, making further advances in Anbar and seizing its capital Ramadi in 2015.

IS continues to carry out bombings in government-held areas despite losing ground
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Iraqi forces waged operations to recapture ground from the militants, securing the Ramadi area earlier this year and retaking the town of Heet last month.

But IS continues to carry out bombings in government-held areas despite losing ground.

In recent weeks, militants stepped up bombing campaigns including three in Baghdad, killing nearly 100 people.

A seperate blast last week killed the former commander of the Ashura Brigades, part of Iran's Basij militia, state-run Iranian news agency said Monday.

Aliriza Babaei was killed in Fallujah after a roadside explosive detonated on Friday but it was not clear what he was doing in Iraq.

Babaei's body has not yet returned to Iran but a funeral is set to take place on Wednesday, IRNA said.

As Iran intervenes directly in Iraq and Syria, it has suffered a large number of casualties in operations meant to back the governments of the two countries.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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