1,200 flee IS-held areas to gov't-controlled city in western Iraq

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-06 06:35:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BAGHDAD, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Up to 1,200 people on Tuesday fled Iraqi areas captured by Islamic State (IS) militants near the border with Syria to a city under control of the Iraqi government after covering dozens of kilometers in the desert of Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source told Xinhua.

The local government of the city of Rutba, some 370 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, received during the day 1,200 people fleeing the militants-seized cities of Aana, Rawa and al-Qaim, mostly women and children, Col. Adel al-Dulaimi from Anbar provincial police said.

They arrived in Rutba after sneaking out of homes and covering more than 200 km across the desert between their cities and Rutba, Dulaimi added.

"The Iraqi government almost every day is receiving dozens of refugees who are fleeing their homes in the IS-held areas, some of whom are forced to pay a lot of money for smugglers to flee their cities and towns to get rid of the IS militants," he noted.

On Aug. 31, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared full liberation of the city of Tal Afar and surrounding areas from the extremist IS militants.

"I declare to you that Tal Afar has joined the liberated Mosul and returned to the homeland," Abadi said in a statement issued by his office.

"The joy of victory has been completed and the entire province of Nineveh has become in the hands of our heroic forces," Abadi said.

The prime minister also vowed to defeat IS all over Iraq, saying "wherever you (IS militants) are, we are coming for liberation, and you have no choice but to die or surrender."

The Iraqi forces still have to launch more offensives to dislodge IS militants from their redoubts in Hawijah in southwestern Kirkuk, the adjacent sprawling rugged areas in eastern Salahudin Province, in addition to the remaining IS strongholds in the border areas with Syria, including the cities of Aana, Rawa and al-Qaim in the western province of Anbar.