Iraqi security forces battling Islamic State (IS) militants on Saturday freed a town and nine villages near the IS-held city of Rawa, the Iraqi military said.
The soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division and the 8th Armored Division, backed by the paramilitary Sunni tribal fighters, crossed the Euphrates River and captured the town of Rumana, its bridge and nine nearby villages, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, Commander of the Liberation of West Anbar Operations, said in a brief statement.
They also managed to seize the areas near the border with Syria, and would continue to clear the vast rural areas in the north of the river, Yarallah said.
Earlier in the day, Yarallah announced the launch of an operation to free the city of Rawa and the nearby town of Rumana within the first phase of a major offensive to clear the rural areas in the north of the Euphrates River.
On October 26, the security forces started a major offensive to free the last urban IS stronghold in Iraq near the Iraqi-Syrian border.
The IS militants seized large swathes of territory in Iraq in 2014. After three years of battles, the Iraqi forces have retaken most of the occupied areas from the terrorist group, including the country’s second largest city Mosul.