World Bulletin / News Desk
Army Colonel Walid al-Duleimi said that the militants had withdrawn from the highway’s Kilometer 80 area near Anbar’s city of Rutba, located some 310 kilometers west of provincial capital Ramadi.
Iraqi security forces, al-Duleimi said, were now in the process of clearing the area of mines and explosive devices planted by the militants.
“The section of the highway between Ramadi and Rutba is now safe for civilian, commercial and military traffic,” he asserted.
On the same day, the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades released 27 farmers abducted on Monday from Anbar’s Amiriyat al-Samoud district, located some 25 kilometers south Fallujah.
District Governor Faisal al-Issawi told Anadolu Agency that the farmers’ release was due largely to the intervention of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and members of Anbar’s provincial government.
The Hezbollah Brigades is a component of the Hashd al-Shaabi, a pro-government Shia fighting force that was formally incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces late last year.
Some Sunni leaders accuse the brigades of abducting hundreds of civilians during anti-ISIL operations carried out last year in Anbar and the town of Jurf al-Nasr (previously known as Jurf al-Sakhar) in Iraq’s central Babil province.
Some Sunni officials have voiced the belief that the brigades were deployed in these areas to prevent the repatriation of Sunni residents who were forcibly displaced in 2015.