World

Iraq announces launch of operation to retake western Anbar province from Islamic State

  • White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Earnest discussed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s assertion that Iraqi forces lack the will to fight undermines the central premise of the White House strategy for defeating the Islamic State, White House-backed USA Freedom Act, and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Earnest discussed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s assertion that Iraqi forces lack the will to fight undermines the central premise of the White House strategy for defeating the Islamic State, White House-backed USA Freedom Act, and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)  (The Associated Press)

  • White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House  in Washington, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Earnest discussed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s assertion that Iraqi forces lack the will to fight undermines the central premise of the White House strategy for defeating the Islamic State, White House-backed USA Freedom Act, and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Earnest discussed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s assertion that Iraqi forces lack the will to fight undermines the central premise of the White House strategy for defeating the Islamic State, White House-backed USA Freedom Act, and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)  (The Associated Press)

Iraq has announced the launch of an operation to drive the Islamic State group out of the western Anbar province, where the extremists captured the provincial capital earlier this month.

Iraqi state TV on Tuesday announced the start of the operation, in which troops will be backed by Shiite and Sunni paramilitary forces, but did not provide further details.

The Islamic State group seized large parts of Anbar starting in early 2014 and captured the provincial capital, Ramadi, earlier this month. The fall of Ramadi marked a major defeat for Iraqi forces, which had been making steady progress against the extremists over the past year with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.