MILITARY

US says Iraqi forces have retaken southwestern town of Rutba

  • Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, speaks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 20, 2016. Bolstered by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi ground forces have recaptured the southwestern town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town for nearly two years fled or put up only light resistance, U.S. military officers said Friday. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

    Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, speaks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 20, 2016. Bolstered by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi ground forces have recaptured the southwestern town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town for nearly two years fled or put up only light resistance, U.S. military officers said Friday. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)  (The Associated Press)

  • CORRECTS LOCATION OF RUTBA FROM SOUTHWESTERN IRAQ TO WESTERN IRAQ - Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, speaks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 20, 2016. Bolstered by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi ground forces have recaptured the western town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town for nearly two years fled or put up only light resistance, U.S. military officers said Friday. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

    CORRECTS LOCATION OF RUTBA FROM SOUTHWESTERN IRAQ TO WESTERN IRAQ - Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, speaks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 20, 2016. Bolstered by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi ground forces have recaptured the western town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town for nearly two years fled or put up only light resistance, U.S. military officers said Friday. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)  (The Associated Press)

  • Army Gen. Joseph Votel speaks to reporters at a base in Taji, Iraq, Friday, May 20, 2016, where Iraqi soldiers are being trained by Australian and New Zealand military forces. Bolstered by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi ground forces have recaptured the western town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town for nearly two years fled or put up only light resistance, U.S. military officers said Friday, May 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

    Army Gen. Joseph Votel speaks to reporters at a base in Taji, Iraq, Friday, May 20, 2016, where Iraqi soldiers are being trained by Australian and New Zealand military forces. Bolstered by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi ground forces have recaptured the western town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town for nearly two years fled or put up only light resistance, U.S. military officers said Friday, May 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. military officials say Iraqi forces have retaken the southwestern town of Rutba after Islamic State fighters who had occupied the town fled or put up only light resistance.

The top U.S. commander in Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, told reporters Friday that it is an important victory for the Iraqi security forces, even though Rutba is a small town.

MacFarland says that taking Rutba from IS will allow the reopening of the main road from Amman to Baghdad, which he says is an important economic lifeline for Iraqi commerce. IS had been using Rutba as a staging area for weaponry and foreign fighters flowing into Iraq.

Another U.S. officer, Marine Brig. Gen. Bill Mullen, says the decisive action in Rutba was U.S. airstrikes outside the town.