Iraqi army commander says 85 of Islamic State-held Qaim recaptured

FILE PHOTO: Smoke is seen as members of the Iraqi Army clash with Islamic State fighters at a frontline in north west of Mosul, Iraq, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Qaim ( An Iraqi army commander has said that forces managed to recapture 85 percent of the Islamic State stronghold town of Qaim, west of Anbar as operations continue against the group’s last bastions in Iraq.

Nuaman al-Zawbai, commander of the 7th division of al-Jazeera Operations command, told the Iraqi Media News Agency that “85% of Qaim had been totally liberated  after security forces controlled several regions and villages of the precinct”.

“The local government, in collaboration with security forces, has prepared a plan to repatriate families that migrated from the western regions, vetting official documentations of families eager to repatriate as a precaution against infiltration of liberated cities by terrorists,” Zawbai added.

Also speaking to the agency, Karim al-Dulaimi, head of the Obaidi precinct, Qaim, said Islamic State members had caused damages to 30 percent of the region’s infrastructure. He said militants detonated utilities including water and electricity networks as well as government and civilian buildings.

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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