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Iraqi forces launch offensive to recapture last ISIS-held district of Rawa

Rawa is the last town still held by IS apart from Albu Kamal

AFP | PTI  |  Baghdad 

Smoke, Iraqi forces, Mosul, Iraq, Islamic State
File photo: smoke rises as Iraqi security forces deploy inside Mosul's international airport, Iraq. Photo: PTI

Iraqi forces launched an offensive today to retake the last pocket of territory in the country still held by the group, the operation's commander said.

The Euphrates valley town of and nearby villages were bypassed by government troops and allied militia when they retook the Syrian border town of last week.

Troops backed by militia recruited among the region's Sunni Arab tribes "launched a major offensive to liberate and the area,", General Abdelamir Yarallah said.

is on the north side of the Euphrates just across from while the small town of lies downstream.

is the last town still held by IS apart from Albu Kamal, Al-Qaim's twin town just across the Syrian border where the jihadists were still battling troops and allied forces today after mounting a surprise counterattack late Thursday.

The Syrian army had declared victory in the battle for Albu Kamal but IS fighters pushed back in from the desert to the north where they still control a strip of territory between areas held by government troops and by US-backed Kurdish-led forces.

The recapture of the pocket would mark the final battleground defeat of IS in Iraq and sound the death knell of the sprawling "caliphate" the group declared in 2014 over a swathe of Iraq and Syria the size of Britain.

First Published: Sat, November 11 2017. 15:12 IST