UPDATED: Iraqi forces kill 12 IS militants during clashes west of Anbar

Iraqi government forces are seen near the Falahat village west of Fallujah on June 27, 2016.
Iraqi forces took the Islamic State group’s last positions in the city of Fallujah on June 26, establishing full control over one of the jihadists’ most emblematic bastions after a month-long operation. / AFP PHOTO / MOADH AL-DULAIMI

Annah ( Twelve Islamic State militants were killed Monday as encounters broke out between them and Iraqi army forces backed by paramilitary troops west of Anbar.

Jordan’s Petra news agency quoted Col. Gamal al-Dulaimi saying the militants were killed during clashes at the desert area around the town of Annah, a major IS stronghold west of the province and near the borders with Syria.

A military source had told Alsumaria News that intense clashes flared as an army force, backed by Tribal Mobilization troops, advanced towards the areas , 210 Km west of Ramadi.

On Sunday, Ikhnews quoted a military source saying senior Iraqi military commanders arrived in Anbar and discussed anticipated operations to retake the towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim, on Anbar’s borders with Syria, from Islamic State militants.

The city of Annah, Anbar, Iraq.

The commanders directed for “advancing towards Annah’s desert areas to cut IS supply routes and besiege the group before the invasion,” the military source told the website.

Islamic State has held the towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim since 2014, when they occupied a third of Iraq to proclaim an “Islamic Caliphate”. So far, there has not been a wide-scale campaign to retake those regions, but occasional offensives managed to take over several surrounding villages.

The Iraqi government declared victory over IS in Mosul, the group’s former capital in Iraq, earlier this month, and said it was going to proceed towards other group holdouts.

The Ministry of Defense said last week that though the Joint Operations Command gives “special attention” to the liberation of the town of Tal Afar, west of Nineveh, as the next target, troops can launch simultaneous operations also targeting IS havens west of Anbar.

Last week, Iraqi warplanes reportedly dropped millions of messages telling locals that liberation offensives for the province were nearing.


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