Iraq Launches Operation to Liberate Anbar Province
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iraq formally announced on Tuesday the start of a military operation to recapture the western province of Anbar from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group.
Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for the popular forces fighting against the ISIL terrorists alongside the Iraqi army, said in a news conference broadcast on the state TV channel that the operation, code-named "Labayk Ya Hussein", had begun.
A statement released by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office also announced that the premier has ordered the start of the operation to cleanse the province of the Takfiri terrorists.
The statement said that Iraqi troops and the voluntary forces will continue the operation until the eradication of ISIL terrorists, adding that the liberation of Anbar province is imminent.
Meanwhile, according to Al Jazeera, the first city likely to face an assault from the Iraqi forces made up of the army, tribesmen, and volunteer forces, is Anbar's capital Ramadi - which fell to ISIL fighters earlier this month.
Thousands of Iraqi troops and popular forces had been gathering at the Habbaniyah military base in preparation for the counter-offensive since Ramadi fell on May 17.
Earlier on Monday, the Iraqi army and the police backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces and tribesmen surrounded Ramadi from east, west, and south, and reportedly progressed towards the al-Anbar University in western Ramadi.
A press release by a group of Iraqi forces stated that "Ramadi is sieged by forces from the three axes of al-Khalediyah (in the east), al-Tash (in the south), and the 35-km region (in the west)."
Ramadi fell to the ISIL militants on May 17 in a serious setback for Iraqi forces, which has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the US strategy of air strikes to help Baghdad roll back the insurgents, which now hold a third each of Iraq and adjacent Syria.
Ramadi, situated about 110km west of Baghdad, is a strategic city that extends along the Euphrates River and is the largest city in the province.