World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Major-General Qassem al-Mohammadi, an Iraqi army officer, said troops had "totally liberated" Hit Island, which lies in the Euphrates River some 70 kilometers northwest of Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital.
"ISIL militants withdrew from the area amid intense airstrikes carried out by the U.S.-led international coalition and Iraqi warplanes, along with artillery barrages by the army," the officer said.
Before its capture, the area had been used by ISIL as a staging point for attacks on the nearby 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 60-nation coalition led by the U.S. and local allies on the ground -- retake much territory. Nevertheless, the extremist group remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.
Iraqi troops and peshmerga fighters are now gradually advancing on Mosul, which Iraqi officials have vowed to "liberate" by year’s end.