BAGHDAD, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Saturday liberated Akashat area and cleared the surrounding desert land from Islamic State (IS) militants near the border with Syria, the Iraqi military said.
The Iraqi army, paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces and the border guards completely recaptured Akashat and reopened a nearby strategic road, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah from the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.
The operation is still underway to clear more areas from IS militants in Iraq's western province of Anbar, Yarallah said.
The latest advance is part of an operation launched in the early morning aimed at driving out IS militants from vast desert area to free the industrial village of Akashat and to clear the road to the village and the nearby border areas.
In a separate statement, the Hashd Shaabi said the troops liberated Akashat area after they destroyed IS defensive lines there, which was used by IS militants as a corridor to move between Syria and Iraq, leaving many IS militants killed and wounded in the area.
Akashat, the northwest of the city of Rutba, is located some 370 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. It has a population of around 5,000 and was built as an industrial village in 1985, attached to the local phosphate quarry and administered by the ministry of industry.
The phosphate production was seriously disrupted by the UN sanctions after the 1991 and the 2003 war. It currently stopped working at the presence of IS group.
The Iraqi forces announced a radio frequency to broadcast the news and instructions to the residents of the towns and villages in the area, JOC said in another statement.
The Iraqi aircraft also dropped thousands of leaflets in Akashat and the nearby cities of Aana, Rawa and al-Qaim near the border with Syria to inform the people that the liberation is soon and to tell IS militants to choose either to surrender and get a fair trial, or to get killed by the security forces.
Earlier, the Iraqi security forces dislodged IS militants from the key cities of Anbar province, including Ramadi and the nearby Fallujah, but the areas near the border with neighboring Syria, including Aana, Rawa and al-Qaim as well as the vast rural areas across the province are still under the control of the extremist militants.