A long-awaited large-scale military operation was launched on Monday by the Iraqi government against ISIS in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, a military spokesman announced.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the joint Operation Command said that the operation started at early dawn in Monday. The Iraqi government forces are supported by both the Iranian backed Hashd Shaabi ( People Mobilization Units) militias, and the pro-government Sunni fighters.
The participation of the US-led international coalition in the operation was not confirmed by Rasool.
ISIS controls several key towns and cities in Anbar since they attacked the city in 2014, including the provincial capital Ramadi, which they took over in May.
In May, Iraqi forces announced an operation to retake Ramadi, but since then no significant advance was made on the ground. Backed by the US- led coalition the Iraqi forces scored a major victory in Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, last month.
Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, vowed in a statement to "take revenge from Daesh (ISIS) criminals on the battlefield” adding that ISIS’ “cowardly crimes against unarmed civilians will only increase our determination to chase them and to expel them from the land of Iraq."
The troops have been moving to cut supply routes of ISIS’ fighters and to surround and isolate Ramadi and Fallujah.
No further details were provided by Rasool on the current operations, but the Iraqi state TV reported capturing villages and areas near Fallujah.
ISIS controls large swaths of the country's north and west after capturing the majority of Anbar province and Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul.