– Daesh terrorists have recaptured parts of Rutba city in western Iraq as Iraqi troops pushed to retake the northern city of Mosul from the terrorist group, reported Yeni Safak.
Iraqi army officer Walid al-Duleimi said Daesh terrorists attacked the city on Sunday from several fronts using suicide bombers and car-bombs.
According to al-Duleimi, Daesh terrorists have seized some parts of the city, which was captured by Iraqi forces six weeks ago.
Scores of Iraqi forces, border guards and tribal fighters were reportedly killed in the attack.
“More than 16 Daesh militants were also killed,” al-Duleimi said.
In a related development, al-Duleimi said the Iraqi army has sent reinforcements into Rutba in an effort to recapture districts seized by Daesh terrorists.
“Clashes are still raging on between security forces and Daesh militants,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces launched a military operation early Monday with a view to taking areas east of Daesh-held Mosul.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Major General Abdelwahab al-Saedi, who is leading the operation, said the offensive aims to liberate the Bartla district from Daesh militants.
“We are getting closer to the eastern outskirts of Mosul and our forces are now 4 kilometers away from the city’s eastern districts,” he said.
Iraqi security forces and allied fighters launched an operation on Monday to retake the town of Rutba from Daesh terrorists, reported Arab News citing military sources.
Special forces, soldiers, police, border guards and pro-government paramilitaries are involved in the operation to retake the Anbar province town, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
Tanks and artillery are taking part in the operation, which is also backed by air support from Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition against Daesh, it said.
Rutba, located in western Anbar province along the main road to Jordan, has been held by the group since 2014.
“Rutba’s important to the enemy because it’s another support zone for them,” said Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for the US-led operation against Daesh.
IS uses it “to stage and prepare forces for operations in… the main battle area,” Warren told journalists in Baghdad last week.
“It’s not heavily defended as is Fallujah or as was Ramadi,” he said, referring to the capital of Anbar, which has been retaken, and its second city, which Daesh still holds.
Warren said the number of Daesh fighters in Rutba varies from around 100 up to several hundred, and that once the Iraqis “decide they want to liberate Rutba, they’ll be able to.”
Daesh overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June of that year, and later made further advances in Anbar, seizing Ramadi in 2015.
Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground from the extremists, securing the Ramadi area earlier this year and retaking the town of Heet last month.
But parts of Anbar — including Fallujah — are still under Daesh control, as is most of Nineveh province, to its north.
On Sunday, suicide attackers stormed a gas plant north of Baghdad , killing at least seven people and setting fire to tanks.
The attack on the Taji plant, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital, was launched at dawn.
Last week, the Iraqi army, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched a much-anticipated offensive to retake Mosul, the last Daesh stronghold in northern Iraq.
The terrorist group captured Iraq’s second largest city in mid-2014 before overrunning large swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions.
The Iraqi army, backed by local allies on the ground and a U.S.-led air coalition, has since retaken much of the territory. Nevertheless, the terrorist group remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.