World Bulletin / News Desk
“Federal Police units, Hashd al-Shaabi fighters and army rapid-reaction forces liberated five villages in Saladin’s northeastern Shirqat district,” Police Lieutenant Numan al-Jabouri told Anadolu Agency.
The Shirqat district is one of the embattled terrorist group’s last strongholds in Saladin.
Following intense army shelling, fierce clashes erupted between Iraqi forces and ISIL militants in the villages, al-Jabouri said, adding that “scores” of militants had been injured in the fighting.
Earlier Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced the launch of twin operations aimed at “liberating” both Shirqat and the Hawija district in Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province.
ISIL has recently suffered a string of watershed military defeats.
Last month, the group was driven from Tal Afar in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province. And one month earlier, the city of Mosul -- once the capital of ISIL’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” -- fell to the army after a nine-month siege.