IS members escape toward desert in Mosul, Salahuddin, Anbar

Islamic State fighters on pickup trucks in Anbar, west of Iraq.

Baghdad ( Islamic State members have escaped their locations toward the desert depth of desert in Mosul, Salahuddin and Anbar, the paramilitary troops’ media service said.

“The intelligence of al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces] has revealed that IS members escaped toward the depth of the desert of Mosul, Salahuddin and Anbar, after the rapid progress achieved by the troops, backed by Iraqi fighter jets,” the media service said in a statement.

Earlier on the day, PMFs announced the launch of a second phase of offensives to clear al-Jazirah, the desert area falling between Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar.

PMF media said Thursday the forces had cleared 55 villages in al-Jazirah.

In a statement, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, commander of Upper Euphrates and al-Jazeera Combing Operations, said “army and al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces] started a wide-scale operation to liberate al-Jazeera regions located between Salahuddin, Nineveh and Anbar.”

Joint troops managed to free several residential areas in Anbar, Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk from Islamic State, which urged the militants to escape toward Al-Jazeera regions in those provinces.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said during his weekly press briefing on Tuesday that his country has defeated Islamic State over the military level, but will declare final victory after desert areas are purged of militants.

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