Iraqi forces backed by Shi'ite militia fighters say they have retaken a mountain palace complex of former President Saddam Hussein from Islamic State fighters, as government forces push ahead on a major offensive against the insurgents. Mana Rabiee reports.
Iraqi forces continue their push into northern Salahuddin, a mostly Sunni Muslim province. Backed by Shi'ite militia fighters, they're on the fourth day of a major offensive aimed at ousting Islamic State militants from the area. They've made some headway... Counter-terrorism forces and volunteer militia fighters say they've recaptured former President Saddam Hussein's presidential complex in Makhoul Mountain... just north of the oil town of Baiji, Hadi al-Amiri is the leader of the Badr Brigade, a powerful Shi'ite militia. He says government forces and allied militias are in full control of this vast energy complex, and are cleaning up pockets of IS resistance. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEADER OF SHI'ITE MILITIA OF BADR BRIGADE, HADI AL-AMIRI, SAYING: "We also took full control of this important and strategic mountain. And we cut the supply route linking the areas considered to be among the enemy's main routes for sending fighters and personnel to Baiji." Baiji... The Badr Brigade says it also seized most parts of this strategic town, defusing IS booby traps and hunting down holdout jihadists. The town lies at a crossroads between several frontlines .... ... control of the area is key to progress in OTHER regions, including Anbar province where forces were also closing in on IS strongholds.