RAMADI, Iraq, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Monday freed rural areas near the newly-freed city of Fallujah in Iraq's western province of Anbar after three days of battles against the Islamic State (IS) militants, a provincial security source said.
Security forces and allied paramilitary units of Hashd Shaabi have ended an offensive to flush out the IS militants from Jazirat al-Khaldiyah area, a sprawling agricultural land to the northwest of Fallujah, which located some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Backed by the U.S.-led heavy bombardment on the IS positions, the troops freed the areas of Albu Bali, Albu Obeid and al-Malahma, leaving a total of 73 IS militants, including many snipers, along with destroying many IS headquarters and dozens of their vehicles, the source added.
On Saturday, the troops advanced from three directions in the rural areas in northwest of Fallujah, and fought fierce clashes with the IS militants, forcing them to retreat from the scene.
The offensive was designed to drive out the IS militants from the rural areas in north of Euphrates River after the government troops and allied militias previously reclaimed key cities and towns, including Ramadi and Fallujah.
Iraq has witnessed worsening violence since the IS took control of parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.
Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence and the rise of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the U.S. that invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003, under the pretext of seeking to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the country.
The war led to the ouster and eventual execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, but no such weapons have been found.