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Iraqi Forces Retake Last IS-Held Town

Iraqi Forces Retake Last IS-Held TownIraqi Forces Retake Last IS-Held Town

Iraqi forces retook on Friday the last town in the country that was held by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, more than three years after the militants stormed nearly a third of Iraq’s territory, the defense ministry said.

At dawn, military units and local tribal fighters pushed into the western neighborhoods of Rawah in western Anbar Province, and after just five hours of fighting they retook the town, according to Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the ministry’s spokesman, AP reported.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated his forces on retaking Rawah. In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Al-Abadi said Iraqi forces liberated Rawah in record time and were continuing operations to retake control of Iraq’s western desert and the border area with Syria.

Rawah, 175 miles (275 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, lies along the Euphrates River Valley near the border town of Qaim that Iraqi forces retook from IS earlier this month.

IS blitzed across Iraq’s north and west in the summer of 2014, capturing Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and advancing to the edges of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

All that now remains of IS-held Iraq are patches of rural territory in the country’s vast western desert along the border with Syria.

IS has steadily been losing ground across the border in Syria as well where its so-called “caliphate” has basically crumbled with the loss of the city of Raqqa, the former IS’s capital, which fell to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October.

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