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Iraqi army drives ISIS out of key Shi’ite district - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi Shi'ite militiamen aim their weapons during clashes with ISIS, in Jurf Al-Sakhr, about 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, on October 7, 2014. (AP Photo)

Iraqi Shi’ite militiamen aim their weapons during clashes with ISIS, in Jurf Al-Sakhr, about 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, on October 7, 2014. (AP Photo)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi army forces raised the national flag on government buildings in the Jurf Al-Sakhr district, 43 miles (70 km) south of Baghdad, on Friday after a months-long battle with militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Shi’ite-majority area.

“Army forces have recaptured the center of the Jurf Al-Sakhr district, controlling state buildings and main roads, after violent clashes with the terrorist gangs of ISIS,” an Iraqi security source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.

At least 60 ISIS militants were killed and 33 others injured during the clashes, the official said. “The [army] force pushed further into the district, prompting ISIS terrorists to flee to Al-Farsiyah and Al-Hajir areas before they were hit by aerial strikes from warplanes.”

A military commander who participated in Operation Jurf Al-Sakhr told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “operation is the second of three stages in the process of cleansing the areas surrounding Baghdad [from ISIS].”

While the military official did not provide details about what the third stage would be, he maintained that “the priority for the time being will be given to the areas around Baghdad so that security forces can begin to liberate other areas.”

“The next objective will be to recapture Hit district due to its strategic significance both for us and ISIS,” he added.

The commander of the Ministry of Interior’s tactical unit was killed in the operation, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Jurf Al-Sakhr is the meeting point for three geographical axes, namely Baghdad International Airport, the Euphrates River and Karbala city, home to one of the most sacred Shi’ite sites, security expert Abdul Kareem Khalaf told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces imposed a curfew on the city of Amiriyah Fallujah, 40 miles (62 km) west of Baghdad, on Friday until further notice as a precaution against attacks from ISIS.

“Security forces are imposing a curfew on vehicles, individuals, bikes and motorcycles in Amiriyah Fallujah until further notice,” a security source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.