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Ministry: Iraqi Forces Retake Area West of Baghdad From IS

Iraqi security forces stand on a destroyed vehicle belonging to Islamic State militants on the outskirt of Ramadi, Dec. 21, 2014.

Iraqi government forces have regained control of an area south-west of Garma in the western Sunni heartland of Anbar, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday.

The area was recaptured after a large-scale attack on Islamic State militants in the region west of Baghdad.

Rapid Reaction Force troops and Shi'ite volunteers backed by Iraqi air cover launched a multi-pronged attack on the al-Ma'amil Complex in the al-Harariyat area, a press release issued by the Ministry said. The complex has been used by Islamic State militants for manufacturing bombs and booby-trapped cars as well as preparing suicide bombs.

The Ministry said Iraqi troops had killed more than 100 militants of different nationalities, including the military commander of the al-Ma'amil Complex and the al-Harariyat and al-Shahabi areas of the Garma district.

Two of his aides were also killed. Troops also defused 250 bombs and destroyed more than 15 vehicles with mounted machine-guns, the Ministry said.

The two-day long operation culminated in the recapture of the area, cutting off the militants' supply route to the nearby city of Fallujah and the Shahabi district. Footage distributed by the Ministry showed the bodies of several militants as well as bombs and explosive materials seized during the operation.

"These are two bodies and there are two others outside. One of them is a Chinese national and the other one is an Afghan national. We found wallets in their pockets with their names and a mobile SIM card," said an unnamed member of the force who took part in the liberation of the area.

The vast desert region of Anbar, where Sunni tribes rose up in 2006 and 2007 to drive out al Qaeda with the Americans, has been overcome with militants throughout 2014.

Now Anbar's largest air base, Ain al-Asad, the crucial piece of infrastructure the Haditha Dam and surrounding towns are encircled by Islamic State — from the Syrian border in the west and from militant-controlled sections of Ramadi in the east.

Sunni tribal fighters fear they are outmanned and say the U.S. military and Iraqi government are not sending enough support.

Weapons are insufficient and U.S.-led air strikes are not dependable, the fighters say.

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