Iraqi army gears up to liberate Tikrit island from IS militants: Commander

Iraqi Forces

Nineveh ( The Iraqi army is now advancing towards four axes starting from Tikrit island to liberate them from Islamic State militants, a commander said.

Speaking to Alghad Press on Friday, Commander of the 9th brigade Brig. Gen. Walid Khalifa said, “Today’s advancement aims at liberating the Tikrit Island, which overlooks Nineveh and Anbar provinces, from Islamic State militants.”

“The Iraqi army is determined to liberate all Iraqi territories from IS militants,” he said, adding that the troops’ advancement runs smoothly.

Khalifa further noted that a number of villages were dislodged on Thursday from IS fighters as part of a military operation launched to clear al-Jazirah, the desert area falling between Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces, from IS militants.

Iraqi forces declared the end of Islamic State’s territorial influence earlier this month after recapturing the militants’ last haven in Anbar province. But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said final victory would be declared after clearing the desert area between Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh.

An Iraqi government campaign, backed by Popular Mobilization Forces and a U.S.-led coalition, has recaptured IS’s holdouts across Iraq, most notably the group’s former capital, Mosul.

Islamic State declared a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014 covering a third of Iraq and Syria. The whereabouts of the group’s founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain a mystery.

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