Iraqi forces advance on ISIL-held Rawa in Anbar | ISIL/ISIS News

Fighters suspected of holding 10,000 civilians hostage in the Euphrates Valley town of Rawa as they lose nearby villages.

Iraqi forces have launched an offensive to capture one of the last areas under ISIL control in the country.

Two Iraqi infantry divisions and Sunni tribal forces are leading the operation in Anbar Province, Iraq.

ISIL fighters are believed to be holding 10,000 civilians hostage in the town of Rawa.

Iraqi forces seized several Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIL) villages on Saturday as part of an operation to retake Rawa, the commander said. of the operation.

Troops backed by paramilitaries recruited from Sunni Arab tribes in the region “launched a major offensive to liberate Rumana and the Rawa region”, General Abdelamir Yarallah said.

He later said that they “recaptured Rumana and its bridge over the Euphrates” along with 10 other villages.

Rumana is on the north side of the Euphrates just opposite al-Qaim, while Rawa, a small town, is downstream.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad on Saturday, said Iraqi commanders hoped the area would be taken quickly.

“We are not talking about weeks and months; youiraqis talk about a few days,” he said.

“Security forces are very confident that they can drive ISIL out of one of their last strongholds in Iraq.”

last battlefield

Rawa is the last town still held by ISIL, apart from al-Bukamal, just across the border from Syria.

The Euphrates Valley town and nearby villages were bypassed by government troops and allied paramilitaries when they recaptured the town of al-Qaim on the Syrian border last week.

Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi Prime Minister, said on Saturday that Operation Rawa aims to “clear open areas in the desert” of western Iraq.

The resumption of Rawa would mark the final defeat on the battlefield of the ISIL group in Iraq and the demise of the “caliphate” declared by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 over large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Syrian government forces and allied paramilitaries from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran invaded al-Bukamal on Thursday, but lost the town again two days later after a series of ISIL attacks.

“ISIL has fully taken over al-Bukamal, and regime forces and allied militias are now within a kilometer or two of the city limits,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Rights, said on Saturday. rights based in Britain.

In this context, al-Abadi said on Saturday that losses from the war against ISIL had so far cost Iraq $100 billion.

“Iraq lost $100 billion in the war against Daesh, but we won three battles; namely liberating the land, keeping Iraq together and resisting threats,” Abadi said during a speech, using the Arabic name ISIL.

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