Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi troops have managed to retake a region from Islamic State in Salahuddin and raise the Iraqi flag on the highest peak of a mountain there, news agencies reported on Monday.
“Al-Fatha region, northeast of Tikrit, has been liberated. The Iraqi flag has been raised on the highest peak of Hamreen mountains,” Wanas al-Jabbara, commander of the 88th brigade of the Tribal Mobilization Forces, was quoted saying. Troops reached its targets after killing four militants and seizing their militants.
“Liberation of al-Fatha will make declaration of Salahuddin as an IS-free province a matter of time. Troops deployed in the region will reinforce others coming toward Hawija,” he added.
Al-Fatha is considered a pivotal region as Tigris passes through it between Makhoul and Hamreen mountains. On its west bank, where IS still exists, Biji refineries and electricity generation stations are located.
Late September, Federal Police announced liberation of eastern Shirqat, after Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command announced earlier the same month the launch of first phase of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat.
On Monday, Iraqi troops recaptured al-Rashad, a strategic region in southeast of Hawija. Earlier on the day, Lt.Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, commander of the Hawija Operations, announced launching wide-scale military operations to free al-Rashad region, as part of the second phase of operations to liberate Hawija.
On Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command announced beginning of the second phase of Hawija offensive.
According to Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell, 557 IS militants were killed, while more than 100 villages and regions were liberated during the first phase, which launched on September 24th.