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Iraq forces free town near IS stronghold in Fallujah

English.news.cn   2016-06-04 21:05:27

FALLUJAH, Iraq, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Saturday liberated the town of Saqlawiyah from Islamic State (IS) militants near the IS-held city of Fallujah in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said.

Around noon, the forces and allied paramilitary Shiite and Sunni units, known as Hashd Shaabi, entered Saqlawiyah in northwest of Fallujah, which itself is located some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and recaptured the central part of it, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition aircraft, took control of the government building and raised the Iraqi flag on the building, while fierce clashes continued to drive out IS militants from the southern part of the town, the source said.

The advance in Saqlawiyah came after several days of clashes with the extremist militants.

The troops also are fighting to enter the militant-seized city of Fallujah, but were slowed down by heavy resistance from IS militants inside the city, in addition to hundreds of hidden bombs are believed to be planted by the militants.

The security forces also wanted to avoid heavy casualties among tens of thousands of civilians who are reportedly trapped inside Fallujah.

On May 23, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of the offensive to claim Fallujah.

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 towards Baghdad after seizing most of Anbar province.

Iraq is currently witnessing a wave of violence since the Islamic State controlled parts of Iraq's northern and western regions in June 2014.

Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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