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Iraqi Army Launches Phase Two of Anti-ISIL Offensive in Central Province

© AP Photo / Hadi MizbanIraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi - Sputnik International
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According to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, the Iraqi Armed Forces started the second phase of a military operation to liberate the central province of Salah al-Din from the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group.

Demonstrators chant pro-al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they wave al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul. File photo - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) The Iraqi Armed Forces started the second phase of a military operation to liberate the central province of Salah al-Din from the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said Tuesday.

ISIL has been occupying vast territories of Salah al-Din since 2014. In March, the Iraqi army launched an anti-ISIL operation in the province, liberating several of its districts, including the regional capital of Tikrit.

"PM [Prime Minister] Al-Abadi meets with military commanders and volunteers near Baiji [northern Iraqi city] and launches phase 2 of operations to liberate Salahuddin province," Abadi said on his Twitter account.

According to media reports, the second stage of the operation is aimed at liberating the rest of the province, including Baiji, a city home to the country’s largest oil refinery.

ISIL is an extremist group that occupies large areas of Iraq and Syria and seeks to establish a caliphate ruled by strict Sharia law on the territory under its control. The group has affiliates operating in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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