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Iraqi forces invade center of Islamic State-held Qaim: source

Iraqi army armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) cross as military pontoon bridge one the way to the frontline in western Mosul, Iraq June 7, 2017. Picture taken June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Qaim (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi forces invaded Friday the center of the Islamic State-held town of Qaim, west of Anbar, becoming closer to eliminating the militants from their last havens in Iraq.

A military source told Alsumaria News that Counter-Terrorism Service forces and Tribal Mobilization troops invaded Gaza neighborhood (350 kilometers south of central Qaim). “The entry of the forces came after they had killed a number of Daesh (Islamic State) elements bunkered inside, and destroyed rest houses (belonging to the militants)”.

The media service of the Popular Mobilization Forces, which support Iraqi troops in their operations, said hours earlier that Islamic State militants burned houses in Gaza neighborhood to create a smoke screen as army warplanes and PMF artillery bombarded central Qaim.

Earlier on Friday, commander of Anbar Operations, Abdul-amir Yarallah, said in a statement that “army, Counter-Terrorism Service, Popular Mobilization Forces and Tribal Mobilization invaded Saada, Karableh and Husaiba in Qaim”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared late October the launch of operations to clear the towns of Rawa and Qaim, Islamic State’s last havens on the borders with Syria.

Since Islamic State militants took over large areas of Iraq and Syria to establish a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014, Iraqi government forces, backed paramilitary troops and U.S.-led coalition, launched a wide-scale campaign to retake those regions.

So far, the offensives managed to retake Mosul, the group’s former capital, the town of Tal Afar, west of Nineveh, Kirkuk’s town of Hawija and Anbar’s Annah.

Local authorities and human rights agencies believe Islamic State members are holding tens of thousands of civilians in their western Anbar havens as future human shields, having killed hundreds for attempting to escape.

 



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