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Iraq launches operation to flush out last IS fighters from desert

Iraq PM Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that he would not declare victory until the desert has been cleared

AFP | PTI  |  Baghdad 

A peshmerga convoy drives towards a frontline in Khazer, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Mosul, Iraq,

Iraqi forces announced the launch of a major operation on Thursday to flush remaining group fighters out of the western near the border with

The arid, sparsely populated wastelands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are the last refuge of the jihadists in Iraq after troops and paramilitaries ousted them from both valleys and all urban areas.

"The Iraqi army, the federal police and the Hashed al- Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation paramilitary units) this morning began clearing the Al-Jazeera region straddling Salaheddin, Nineveh and Anbar provinces," the head of Joint Operations Command, General Abdelamir Yarallah, said in a statement.

The region's dry valleys, the oases and steppes make up around four per cent of the national territory, Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi expert on IS, told AFP last week.

Iraq's close ally has already declared the victory of IS but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that he would not follow suit until the has been cleared.

"After the operation has ended, we will announce the final defeat of Daesh in Iraq," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Over the border in neighbouring Syria, pro-government forces and US-backed Kurdish-led forces are conducting similar operations to clear IS fighters from the countryside north of the Euphrates valley after ousting them from all urban areas.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 24 2017. 09:12 IST