Iraq army steps up campaign against ISIL in al-BaghdadiComments
The Iraqi army has stepped up efforts to retake the town of al-Baghdadi from ISIL militants.
According to the senior US commander of coalition efforts in Iraq and Syria, forces have secured an area near a key American air base.
Lieutenant General James Terry estimated more than 800 Iraqi forces were engaged and said the US-led coalition had also carried out some air strikes. The timing of the strikes is unclear.
He implied the militants were retreating – a sign of success for the alliance after the jihadists swept through northern Iraq in summer 2014.
However, a video released by ISIL on Monday (February 23) purports to show heavy fighting in al-Baghdadi. It seems to contradict a statement by Sabah Karhut, the head of Anbar Provincial Council, who claimed Iraqi security forces had recaptured the police station and reached the centre of the disputed town.
Meanwhile, France has stepped up its campaign against the militant forces. On February 23, it deployed an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, as part of the US-led military coalition.