BAGHDAD, April 15 (UPI) — Iraqi forces reclaimed the city of Hit from the Islamic State, taking back the last IS stronghold in that region and severing an important IS supply route between Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service spokesman Sabah al-Noman said the city “is cleared of any Daesh gunmen,” using another name for the militant group. It is also known as ISIS and ISIL.
Coalition forces have been fighting to recapture the city, located about 90 miles outside Baghdad, since March. Forces entered Hit on April 4 after recapturing the nearby city of Kubaysah.
Backed by U.S. airpower and using a single M1 Abrams tank, nicknamed “The Beast,” forces killed IS militants. The American-made tank tore through IS fighting positions, destroying vehicles and improvised explosive devices.
Coalition forces conducted four airstrikes, hitting three IS tactical units. The strikes destroyed four machine gun positions and IS equipment that included a boat and boat dock.
“The joint forces had inflicted heavy human and material losses on ISIS gangs,” officials said.
Thousands of people fled the city in October 2014 when the IS moved in. Forces are now preparing to recapture Fallujah, the second largest city in the province and Mosul.