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Iraq Launches Campaign To Retake Anbar From Islamic State

Iraqi forces tightened the noose on the Islamic State militant group in its stronghold of Anbar on July 13 with a ground operation backed by coalition air strikes.

Iraqi security forces, Shi'ite paramilitaries, and Sunni tribal fighters advanced toward Ramadi and Fallujah, the two main cities in the western province of Anbar.

In a long-awaited morale boost, a much-delayed first batch of U.S. F-16 fighter jets flew to Iraq, enhancing the capacity of the country's embattled military.

Iraqi forces recaptured two villages east of Ramadi -- Albu Shijil and Shiha near Khaldiyah, an army lieutenant colonel said.

A commander of a Hashed al-Shaabi unit of Sunni tribal fighters said the Al-Sijer area was retaken, further isolating Fallujah, which lies about halfway between Baghdad and Ramadi.

But it was warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition that did the grunt work in Anbar with a record 29 air strikes hitting 67 targets.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP