Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iraqi security forces have driven Islamic State militantsfrom the western town of al-Baghdadi,, Anbar province, at the heart of an offensive launched by jihadists in their march towards the capital.
The confirmation comes from US Army sources located just 8 km from the town, in a military base that houses hundreds of American troops engaged in training Iraqi soldiers. The Baghdad army raided the town, after a series of targeted air raids carried out by the international coalition led by Washington.
In recent weeks, the Iraqi army has been regaining ground from the Islamic State. The jihadists have held Mosul - second most important city of the country - and most of the territories in the west for months. Currently an offensive is underway to regain Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein, located halfway between the same Mosul and Baghdad.
It involves at least 30 thousand Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militias. From the information provided by the military command, the soldiers raided the district of al-Dour, on the southern outskirts of Tikrit, "liberated" of the Islamists. However, there has been no confirmation of the fate of the city and the massive use of explosives by the Islamic State has slowed the Army's advance.
Analysts and military experts explain that the reconquest of al-Baghdadi is strategic for the liberation of other parts of Anbar province, in the hands of the Islamists.
However, the slow progress of the Army failed to prevent the destruction of the ancient city of Nimrud, considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. To global dismay and indignation images are circulating of the destruction of the 13th century archaeological jewel by bulldozers, and the iconoclastic madness of the IS.
The jihadists barbarism against a World Heritage Site has been condemned by the international community and UNESCO, the UN agency for education, science and culture. The country is being subjected to a "systematic" destruction of its patrimony under the pretext of targeting "false idols". In fact the Islamists not only destroy, but often steal these artifacts to us as assets to be sold on the black market and collect the money needed to finance their war, as the apostolic vicar of Aleppo (in neighboring Syria) Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen has told AsiaNews.
Finally, this morning a gang of armed men kidnapped 31 Muslim Shia citizens, who lived in the north-eastern suburb of Sadr City, Baghdad. Initial reports state some Shiite militias are believed to be responsible as they often target those engaged in activities prohibited by Islam, such as the sale of alcohol and prostitution.