Iraq is saying they are gains against Islamic State jihadists in Anbar province, with Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi saying the government has "retaken the initiative” militarily. He spoke at a Baghdad news conference with Turkey's prime minister.
Iraqi state TV reports that government security forces in Anbar have recaptured several villages near the provincial capital, Ramadi, and are trying to retake the town of Hit, which fell to Islamic State militants last month.
The militants reportedly killed hundreds of members of the Albunimr tribe in and around Hit last month, after they were forced to surrender to the militants.
The killings, which were documented in photographs and amateur videos, shocked other Sunni tribes in the region and turned many against the jihadist group.
During a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu to Baghdad Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi told reporters that government forces have retaken the military initiative.
Abadi says just recently Baghdad itself was threatened by the Islamic State, but now the battle has been taken to other [more distant] places with government forces having just recaptured the town of Beiji and its refinery, along with the highway to Baghdad.
He said that government forces are in the process of retaking parts of Anbar province, along with territory in Diyala, Salaheddin and Ninevah provinces.
Abadi also thanked the Turkish prime minister for an offer to help the Iraqi government in its battle against the Islamic State group.
Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, however, said in a speech in Ankara that the United States had not fulfilled what he called “necessary conditions” for Turkish participation in the coalition against the Islamic State.
Sky News Arabia reported that a coalition airstrike killed Radwan Hamdoun, whom it called the Islamic State's “minister of war.”
It said the strike took place near the city of Mosul, which is now under Islamic State control. Iraqi state TV reported that 70 IS militants were also killed in a strike near Kirkuk.
Iraqi TV called on residents of Hit to “remain in their houses,” while the operation to liberate the area takes place. It reported that the town of Doulab and nearby villages had been “liberated.”
Former Iraqi national security adviser Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie told VOA that Iraqi government forces have “managed to turn the tables” against the Islamic State within the last six to eight weeks and have “managed to contain their momentum and progress.”
“Iraqi security forces have the upper hand now," he said, adding "now, with the help from the international [community], especially the United States of America, we're managing to roll them back and to hopefully to defeat them and ultimately destroy them."
U.S. President Barack Obama has sent 3,500 military advisers to Iraq to help Iraqi security forces counter the Islamic State.
The U.S., Britain and France are also participating in airstrikes against IS targets, along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.