BAGHDAD, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Tuesday continued clashes with the Islamic State (IS) militants around the IS stronghold in the city of Fallujah and others areas in Anbar province, while the troops freed two villages from IS group in the country's northern province of Nineveh, security sources and a police chief said.
In Iraq's western province of Anbar, the federal police and allied Shiite and Sunni Hashd Shaabi units carried out an operation to clear the areas adjacent to Euphrates River in south of the IS-held city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Lieutenant General Raid Shakir Jawdat said in a press release.
The troops managed to free a small dam on a branch of Euphrates River located some five km south of Fallujah, in addition to clearing the areas adjacent to the river in south of the city, Jawdat said without giving details about casualties among both sides.
The clearing operation came as the security forces have been battling IS militants after they made their first advance on Wednesday in the district and raised the Iraqi flag over some of its buildings, the source said.
The advance in southern Fallujah was slowed by IS militants resistance inside the city, with hundreds of hidden bombs believed to be planted by them.
The security forces are also avoiding heavy casualties among tens of thousands of civilians who are reportedly trapped inside Fallujah.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on May 23 the launch of a major offensive to claim Fallujah and surrounding towns and areas.
Also in the province, the Iraqi army and allied Sunni paramilitary units, known as Hashd Shaabi, fought heavy clashes with IS militants who attacked the military positions in the areas of Albu Risha, Tway and Jeraishi in north of the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
After hours of fierce clashes during the day, the troops managed to repel the IS attack, leaving at least 25 IS militants killed, including four suicide bombers, the source said.
The clashes came just one day after the troops repelled an attack by dozens of IS militants with four suicide car bombs on the military positions in Jeraishi area.
Government troops and allied militias have currently been fighting for months to reclaim key cities and towns in Anbar from IS militants, who attempted to advance toward Baghdad after seizing most of Anbar province.
In northern Iraq, Iraq's army along with Kurdish security forces, known as the Peshmerga, attacked IS posts in the villages of al-Farraj and Kherbat-Shamam in south of the IS-held city of Mosul after fierce clashes with IS militant that left more than 37 IS militants killed, including several suicide bombers, said the Operations Command of Nineveh Liberation's media office in a statement.
After the liberation of the two villages in east of the Tigris River, the troops are now surrounding the adjacent village of Haj Ali, which is expected to be freed in the coming hours, according to the statement.
The battles against IS militants in south of Mosul is part of an operation carried out on Sunday by the troops to clear a village cluster scattered in the east of the militant-seized town of Qayyara, 50 km south of Mosul, the capital of Iraq's northern province of Nineveh.
The operation is the first phase of a major offensive launched in late March aimed to free the areas in south of Mosul, including the town of Qayyara, to be able to surround Mosul from both the south and east, before heading towards Mosul in order to flush out IS militants from the city, which lies 400 km north of Baghdad.
Mosul has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces surprisingly abandoned their weapons and posts and fled.
Iraq has been witnessing a wave of violence since the IS controlled parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.