Iraqi state television has announced the launch of an operation to drive Islamic State (IS) militants out of the western Anbar Province, where the Islamist group captured the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this month.
The televised announcement on May 26 said Iraqi troops will be backed by Shi'ite and Sunni paramilitary forces.
A Shi'ite militia spokesman said the operation northeast of Ramadi was aimed at cutting off the militants while preparing a bid to retake the city.
Ahmad al-Assadi, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, said the operation will see a mix of security forces and paramilitaries move south from Salah al-Din Province.
The IS group seized large parts of Anbar starting in early 2014 and captured the provincial capital, Ramadi, earlier this month.
The fall of Ramadi marked a major setback for Iraqi forces, which had been making progress against the militants over the past year with the help of U.S.-led air strikes.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, CNN, dpa, and BBC