[UPDATE] ISIS pushed out of al-Baghdadi, other villages in western Iraq – task force

Iraqi forces with the support of coalition airstrikes have pushed the Islamic State (ISIS) group out of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi where militants burned dozens of people to death last month after seizing parts of the area, the Combined Joint Task Force announced on late Friday.

“Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve delivered precise and effective airstrikes on enemy positions in and around Al Baghdadi, in support of the Iraqi Government's fight against ISIL,” the coalition said in a statement. “Iraqi Security Forces and Tribal Fighters from the Anbar region have successfully cleared Al Baghdadi of ISIL, retaking both the police station and three Euphrates River bridges.”

The bridges had been held by the Islamic State since September 2014. The area had been the scene of heavy fighting over the last month, which was followed by a massacre in which ISIS reportedly burned as many as 45 people to death after accusing them of working with Iraqi security forces.

The militants have also been pushed out of seven villages northwest of al-Baghdadi on the road to the city of Haditha, according to the coalition. The reports from the task force could not be independently verified.

Coalition forces carried out at least 26 airstrikes between February 22 and Friday in support of Iraqi forces as they worked to retake al-Baghdadi and the nearby villages. The coalition also provided surveillance assets and teams who provided operational and intelligence assistance to Iraqi forces.

“The CJTF-OIR Coalition will continue supporting efforts on behalf of all Iraqi Security Forces and the Government of Iraq, to attack and defeat ISIL,” the task force said in a statement. “Iraqi Security Forces now hold the gains they have made and are postured to retake additional territory from ISIL in the Anbar region.”

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