Iraqi Forces Have Retaken The Last ISIS-Held Town In Iraq

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More bad news for the Islamic State arrived today after October’s liberation of Raqqa (the de facto ISIS capital of Syria) by U.S.-backed troops. Now, Iraqi troops have pushed the Islamic State out of Rawa, the last ISIS-held town in all of Iraq. The Iraq Joint Operation Command has sent out word that the Iraqi national flag was erected over the city on Friday after a successful operation by troops who entered Rawa after crossing the Euphrates River at dawn.

Preceded by planning and support by U.S.-led coalition forces, the resulting battle lasted five hours and has effectively ended the three-year war against ISIS’ entrenchment within the country:

Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook on Friday the last town in the country that was held by the Islamic State group, more than three years after the militants stormed nearly a third of Iraqi territory, the Defense Ministry’s spokesman said.

At dawn, Iraqi military units and local tribal fighters pushed into the western neighborhoods of Rawah in western Anbar province and after just five hours of fighting they retook the town, according to Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool.

Although this is a major victory, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The Islamic State isn’t completely pushed out off Iraq but all that really remains of its holdings are a few pockets of rural territory along the Syrian border. And of course, there’s always the danger that another terror-based organization can take advantage of the the resulting “vacuum” (in manner of ISIS) in an effort to establish power.

On a related note, the New York Times has published a rather damning report about the number of civilian casualties in Iraq due to U.S.-led airstrikes. Following 18 months of investigative research, the publication has determined that the U.S. military has vastly underestimated the true number of civilian deaths that have occurred as a result of acts by coalition forces. The actual number, according to the NY Times is actually 31 times higher than the Pentagon has admitted. The full report is well-worth reading.

(Via CNN, New York Times & NBC Washington)