World Bulletin / News Desk
The Iraqi army on Thursday launched a "broad operation" to retake the road, which lies some 160 kilometers west of Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital, Major-General Qassim al-Mohammadi, commander of the army’s Al-Jazeera Operations said.
According to al-Mohammadi, army troops and their tribal allies managed to capture the strategic highway "without resistance" by ISIL.
The road, he added, had since been cleared of landmines and explosive devices planted by ISIL militants, while security forces have set up checkpoints to protect it from potential attack.
The 150-kilometer desert road had been used by ISIL as a main supply route between Iraq’s Anbar and Saladin provinces, according to the army commander.
It had also been used as a staging point for attacks on the nearby city of Haditha, he added.
Earlier this week, the Iraqi army also took Anbar’s Hit Island region, which before its capture had been used by ISIL as a staging point for attacks on the city of Hit and the Al-Baghdadi district.
In mid-2014, ISIL captured Mosul -- Iraq’s second largest city -- along with vast swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions, including much of Anbar.
Recent months have seen the army, backed by a U.S.-led air coalition and its local allies on the ground, retake much territory.
Nevertheless, ISIL remains in control of several parts of Iraq, with Mosul serving as the group’s main stronghold in the country.
Iraqi troops and Peshmerga fighters are now staging a gradual advance on Mosul, which Iraqi officials have vowed to "liberate" by year’s end.