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Iraqi forces launch operation to capture last ISIS-held town

Rawa captured within hours of operation's launch, further operations continue to secure desert areas and the Iraqi border

Iraqi forces on Friday launched a predawn operation to recapture Rawa, the last town held by Islamic State in Iraq.

Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the U.S.-led Coalition against ISIS tweeted that Coalition advisors were supporting the Iraqi Forces with strikes, intelligence and surveillence during the operation.

Operational commander Lieutenant General Abudul Amir Rasheed Yarallah has said the ISF already reached the center of the district, while the army said it had “liberated Rawa entirely” by midday, Rudaw reported.

Iraq’s defense ministry said in a statement that it had completely retaken the town after after Iraqi troops entered from the western neighborhoods.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office tweeted his congratulations to the security forces, saying that the speed of the operation reflected the military’s strength and successful planning.

Rawa, located on the Euphrates river in Iraq’s western Anbar province, is the last urban area held by ISIS after Iraqi forces recaptured the town of Qaim on November 3. The ISF, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services and Hashd al-Shaabi militas launched the final offensive to retake Qaim and Rawa on October 25.

A Coalition airstrike report released earlier on Friday listed two strikes near Rawa, which destroyed an improvised explosive device factory and “artillery piece.” The Coalition said it carried out 11 other strikes near Rawa this week, hitting vehicle borne improvised explosive device factories and other buildings, an ISIS headquarters, weapons and vehicles, among other targets.

ISIS first captured Qaim, a strategic town on the border with Syria, along with Rawa in July 2014 after Iraqi forces withdrew from the areas. General Qassim Atta said at the time that the Iraqis had to reinforce troops in other areas.

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