The Iraqi military says government forces together with tribal fighters have captured a desert outpost of Islamic State (IS) militants near the border with Syria hours after a major offensive against the extremist group in the area began.
The Joint Operations Command (JOC), which is leading the battle against IS in Iraq, said in a September 16 statement that the former mining town of Akashat, south of the Euphrates River, had been captured in the offensive that started hours earlier.
IS seized the western, mineral-rich area in 2014. Further north along the border, IS still controls the strategic towns of Qaim, Rawa, and Ana.
The operation is seen as a setup for an expected campaign by Iraqi forces to drive IS militants from the remaining pockets of territory controlled by the group near the Syrian border.
The JOC statement said that Shi'ite paramilitary forces backed by Iran and Sunni tribal fighters participated in the September 16 offensive against IS, which has suffered a string of battlefield setbacks and ceded territory both in Iraq and Syria.
In July, the Iraqi government retook the city of Mosul and, in August, the town of Tal Afar.
IS still controls Hawja in oil-rich Kirkuk Province and parts of Anbar Province.
Based on reporting from AFP, dpa, and Reuters