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Iraq mounts new bid to retake cities under Islamic State militant control

Iraq mounts new bid to retake cities under Islamic State militant control
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Iraqi forces have launched a fresh offensive to retake cities controlled by the so-called Islamic State group.

Several campaigns are underway in the western province of Al-Anbar near the Syrian border.

According to officials, the first target of the operation is Aanah, followed by Rawa and Al Qaim (330 km north-west of Baghdad), the most western part of the country on the banks of the Euphrates River.

In its 12th week, the offensive has gained momentum since Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition renewed their push for Mosul a week ago, despite meeting fierce resistance in eastern districts.

The commander of the coalition, Lieutenant General Steve Townsend, says better coordination between army and security forces is greatly helping the effort.

“We’re seeing progress: before where we were seeing progress mostly on one main axis and halting progress on the others, now we’re actually seeing forward movement on all of the axes in eastern Mosul,” said Townsend.

Although vastly outnumbered by Iraqi forces, the Islamic State militants in Mosul have used the urban terrain to their advantage and have also embedded themselves among the local population.

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