Offensive launched to free IS-held Iraqi province

Baghdad, July 13 (IANS) A major offensive was launched on Monday to free Iraq’s Anbar province which has been in control of the Islamic State (IS) terror group since last year.

“The operations to free Anbar province were launched at dawn,” a spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a televised statement aired on the state-run Iraqiya TV.

He said the security forces and allied Shia militias, known as Hashd Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation), in addition to Sunni tribesmen and federal police forces were marching toward their targets as planned, Xinhua news agency reported.

Iraqi security forces and allied militias have been fighting for months to regain control of key cities and towns in Iraq’s largest province of Anbar since the IS militants seized most of the province and tried to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter attacks by security forces have pushed them back.

The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS militants.

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