Agence France Presse
BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces Monday launched an attack against extremist-held areas southeast of Daesh's (ISIS) bastion of Hawija, the operations commander said.
Government forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi, an alliance mostly of Shiite militias, are fighting to retake the northern town of Hawija after expelling Daesh from large parts of the territory they seized in Iraq in 2014.
"The Counter-Terrorism Service and Hashed al-Shaabi have started a broad operation to liberate Rashad and nearby villages as part of the second phase to liberate Hawija," Lieutenant General Abdel Amir Yarallah said.
The Hashed al-Shaabi confirmed the offensive and said it had retaken five villages west of Rashad, which is 35 kilometers southeast of Hawija.
On Sept. 21, Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition launched an offensive to retake a extremist enclave around Hawija, swiftly taking the town of Sharqat on its second day before pushing on towards Hawija itself.
On Friday, they started the battle to retake the town itself, one of the last Daesh bastions in the country along with a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the border with Syria.