(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Iraqi warplanes have dropped leaflets on an Islamic State-held area near the border with Syria, signalling an imminent offensive to retake the extremist militia's last stronghold in Iraq.
The aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets overnight on Iraq's far western towns of Al-Qaim and Rawa, advising residents to avoid places where the militants are positioned, an Iraqi military media centre reported yesterday.
'Your security forces have liberated all Iraqi areas once defiled by Daeshis. They are coming to liberate you, the leaflets told locals in the Islamic State-held western towns, using an Arabic acronym for the hardline insurgents.
'(We) advise any Iraqi carrying arms in the face of the state to lay them down immediately, go to any house and raise a white flag on its roof when liberating forces enter Al-Qaim, the leaflets said, according to the media centre.
Iraqi jets and a US-led air alliance have recently stepped up their strikes on Islamic State facilities in the area near the Syrian border.
Many Islamic State hardliners are believed to have fled to Al-Qaim under pressure from recent government campaigns in northern Iraq.
On the Syrian border, the radical group is the target of ongoing rival campaigns by Syrian government forces backed by Russia, and US-supported local fighters.
In recent months, Islamic State has suffered military setbacks and lost ground in Iraq and Syria.Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced this month that Baghdad had driven Islamic State from the town of Hawija, the extremist group's last foothold in the north of the country.
Government forces, backed by US-led air power, recaptured Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, from Islamic State in July.
Last month, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led coalition allied with the US, announced it had taken full control of Raqqa,once the hub of Islamic State's self-styled caliphate.