Iraq Begins Operation to Oust Islamic State Group From Anbar

BAGHDAD  (AP) -
Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite and Sunni pro-government fighters prepare to attack Islamic State positions in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday. (AP Photo)
Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite and Sunni pro-government fighters prepare to attack Islamic State positions in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday. (AP Photo)

The Iraqi government began a long-awaited, large-scale military operation on Monday to dislodge Islamic State terrorists from the country’s sprawling western Anbar province, a military spokesman announced.

The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, announced in a statement that the operations started at dawn Monday. Rasool didn’t clarify whether the U.S.-led international coalition is taking part, mentioning only government forces and allied Shiite and Sunni paramilitary troops.

This is not the first time the Iraqi government has announced an operation to retake Anbar — where several key towns, including the provincial capital Ramadi, remain under Islamic State control. In May, authorities announced an operation to retake Ramadi, but there has not been any major progress on the ground since then.

In a brief statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed to “take revenge from Daesh criminals on the battlefield … and their cowardly crimes against unarmed civilians will only increase our determination to chase them and to expel them from the land of Iraq.”