Iraqi forces seized the district of al-Qaim on Sunday, one of the last remaining territories in the country held by ISIS, announced Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi who visited the area after its liberation.
In a congratulatory statement, Abadi praised the Iraqi security forces for liberating the district “in record time” of four days.
“Without the sacrifices of the armed forces, this would not have been achieved,” Abadi said during his visit during which he hoisted the Iraqi flag over the Husaibah crossing on the Syrian border.
The premier also visited the Haditha district, 200 kilometers from Ramadi, which ISIS only managed to occupy small areas of.
The Rawa district and few far away desert areas still remain under ISIS control.
Military sources said the forces liberated Qaim instead of Rawa after intelligence information revealed that ISIS was entrenched among the civilians in Rawa, which will complicate the liberation efforts.
Sources indicated that the military operations in west Iraq aim to cleanse Qaim and Rawa from ISIS, control the border with Syria and comb wide areas in the Ratba district, reaching the border with Karbala, southeast of al-Anbar.
The operations joint leadership issued a statement explaining that forces were seeking to liberate the areas west of Anbar and south of Euphrates from ISIS and control areas on the road between Akshat al-Qaim until the strategic road.
Commander of the operation Lt. Gen. Abdulamir Yarallah stated that they are now in full control of Hasiba border line between Iraq and Syria. He was previously in charge of leading operations to liberate Mosul, Tal Afar, and al-Hawijah.
Units from the Iraqi army, air force, Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS), national security, intelligence and security participated in the operations, while the International Coalition provided missile and air support.
The CTS and Tribal Mobilizations Units took part in most operations against ISIS.
The joint operations targeted several vital and strategic areas including: the Saad Air Base, old train station, Akkaz gas fields, Qaim cement factory, Ratba southern and northern airports, and the Phosphate Public Plant and its compound, in addition to several strategic and main roads.
The leadership statement also indicated that about 500 ISIS terrorists were killed in the operations west of Anbar and dozens of their vehicles were destroyed.