Iraqi forces kill 4 IS militants in major anti-IS offensive in western Iraq

BAGHDAD, Aug 25:The Iraqi forces on Saturday killed four Islamic State (IS) militants during the first day of the fourth phase of a major offensive to hunt down remnants of IS militants in the desert of Iraq’s western province of Anbar, the Iraqi military said.
The Iraqi army and Hashd Shaabi paramilitary fighters clashed with IS militants at an area located in western Anbar province, leaving two IS militants killed and four others captured, a statement by the Iraqi Defence Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the international coalition aircraft conducted an airstrike on two IS positions in Anbar desert and completely destroyed them, the statement said.
On the same day, Jawad al-Rubaie, a Hashd Shaabi leader, said that the paramilitary fighters killed two IS militants, one of whom was a suicide bomber, and defused 12 roadside bombs, along with removing a number of landmines, according to Hashd Shaabi statement.
Earlier in the day, a joint force from the Iraqi army, police, and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units carried out the fourth phase of the offensive dubbed “Victory Will” to clear Anbar’s desert and other areas in the province from IS remnants.
In July, Iraqi forces, backed by the Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft, conducted the first and second phases of the “Victory Will,” aimed at securing areas in the north of Baghdad and the provinces of Anbar, Salahudin and Nineveh.
The troops concluded the third phase of the major offensive in the provinces of Nineveh and Diyala on August 5.
The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.