Iraqi army launches anti-IS operation in Rutba desert
The operation commenced at dawn in the Rutba Desert in western Anbar province, with aerial assistance provided by the international coalition, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported.
Iraq's move against IS cells in the area comes after western Anbar faced a two-week spate of attacks by the militants.
Towns, villages, and even military barracks have been hit, leaving civilians and soldiers killed.
Iraqi forces explained in a statement: "The operation aims to hunt down the remnants of the IS terror gangs, and search for their nests."
The military said it seeks to "clear" the zone of IS militants and based on "intelligence information" with the participation of counter-terror and rapid response units.
Several Iraqi army commanders have travelled to the area to manage the campaign, an Iraqi military official said.
Deputy Commander of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Abd Al-Ameer Al-Shammari came to Rutba for this purpose, the same military figure informed Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's source explained the area's caves, valleys, and other possible hiding spots would be thoroughly searched for IS fighters.
US planes have helped Iraqi forces push through the area, the insider added.
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Washington's military involvement is its first since the US announced it is removing its combat troops from Iraq and instead focus on assisting local security.
On Tuesday, Iraq revealed it had detained an important IS member in Mosul, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
The IS figure held senior roles in the group from 2014 to 2017 while it held Mosul and many other parts of the country, the security forces said.