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Iraqi Sunni fighters battling Islamic State (IS) group jihadists alongside government forces fire their weapons on the outskirts of Iraq's Baiji oil refinery, about 200 kilometres north of Baghdad, on May 25, 2015.

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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