GLOBAL ECONOMY

Trapped civilians stall Iraqi forces battling IS in Anbar

  • In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Iraqi security forces celebrate as they hold a captured flag of the Islamic State group in the town of Kubaisa, Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Iraq.  The trophy standard of the Islamic forces was captured after regaining control of Kubaisa. (AP Photo)

    In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Iraqi security forces celebrate as they hold a captured flag of the Islamic State group in the town of Kubaisa, Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Iraq. The trophy standard of the Islamic forces was captured after regaining control of Kubaisa. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Iraqi security forces inspect a destroyed vehicle used by Islamic State fighters, after regaining control of the town of Kubaisa, Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Iraq.  Since IS swept across much of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014, Iraqi authorities have waged a full-scale war to win back territory from the extremist group. (AP Photo)

    In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Iraqi security forces inspect a destroyed vehicle used by Islamic State fighters, after regaining control of the town of Kubaisa, Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Iraq. Since IS swept across much of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014, Iraqi authorities have waged a full-scale war to win back territory from the extremist group. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Iraqi security forces patrol after regaining control the town of Kubaisa from Islamic State group, Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Iraq. Since IS swept across much of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014, Iraqi authorities have waged a full-scale war to win back territory from the extremist group.  (AP Photo)

    In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Iraqi security forces patrol after regaining control the town of Kubaisa from Islamic State group, Anbar province, west of Baghdad, Iraq. Since IS swept across much of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014, Iraqi authorities have waged a full-scale war to win back territory from the extremist group. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

The spokesman for Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces says tens of thousands of trapped civilians have stalled Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State group in the country's western Anbar province.

Iraqi forces re-launched an offensive on the town of Hit, 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Baghdad, under cover of heavy coalition airstrikes early Thursday morning, Sabah al-Numan said.

The counterterrorism forces, who are leading the operation, reached within three kilometers of Hit city center before being forced to stop, al-Numan said.

Al-Numan said the forces "are making a plan to evacuate these families" and leaflets were dropped over Hit indicating which roads can be used to flee.

The town of Hit lies along an IS supply line linking the group's extremist forces in Iraq to those in Syria.