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Iraqi Forces Liberate Key Anbar Province City from Islamic State

Iraqi security forces recaptured the western city of Hit in Anbar province from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

However, Reuters reported, “As US-led offensives drive back Islamic State in Iraq, concern is growing among US and UN officials that efforts to stabilise liberated areas are lagging, creating conditions that could help the militants endure as an underground network.”

The Iraqi forces raised their country’s flag on Monday over the municipal building in the city of Hit.

“Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service and Joint Operations Command confirmed that the government was in control of the center of the city, which is located on the Euphrates River in Anbar province, about 100 miles west of Baghdad,” reported The Washington Post.

“We defused the booby traps and raised the Iraqi flag. Now I can say, after we’ve taken this building, that Hit is completely liberated,” Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, chief of Iraq’s counterterrorism forces, reportedly said.

ISIS conquered Hit in 2014. Iraqi forces had been fighting to retake the city since March.

The Post quoted Gen. Assadi saying that “his forces still needed to clear at least a few neighborhoods where fighting had flared, but he insisted that the occupiers were fleeing.”

Assadi added that “more than 11,000 people were evacuated from Hit but that there were still civilians in the city.”

ISIS jihadists tried to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs), also known as homemade bombs and car bombs, to slow down the Iraqi forces’ offensive, according to Assadi.

“The operation in Hit is part of a wider government offensive in the western part of Anbar to dislodge the jihadists from key strongholds,” said the Post. “U.S. forces are also stationed at the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, where they are training Iraqi troops.”

“Iraqi forces recently recaptured the town of Kubbaisa, also in the province,” it added. “In December, the government retook the Anbar provincial capital, Ramadi, which had been seized in a dramatic Islamic State offensive last spring.”

Citing Lise Grande, the number two UN official in Iraq, Reuters reported that not enough money is being committed to rebuild the areas retaken from ISIS.

“One major worry: not enough money is being committed to rebuild the devastated provincial capital of Ramadi and other towns, let alone Islamic State-held Mosul, the ultimate target in Iraq of the US-led campaign,” according to Reuters.

Grande reportedly told Reuters that “the United Nations is urgently seeking $400 million from Washington and its allies for a new fund to bolster reconstruction in cities like Ramadi, which suffered vast damage when US-backed Iraqi forces recaptured it in December.”

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