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By Alastair Jamieson

Iraq has launched a military campaign to drive ISIS militants out of Anbar province, senior security officials said Tuesday.

It follows the seizure of the provincial capital, Ramadi, by the Islamist terror group earlier this month. At least 500 people were killed and 8,000 others fled the city to escape the fighting.

Iraqi state television also 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 fall of Ramadi came despite the support of U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Sunday that Iraqi forces had "vastly outnumbered" the ISIS militants in Ramadi but "showed no will to fight."

Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for Anbar's governor, said last week there had been executions in the streets, described the situation in the city as “absolutely terrible.”


Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Muhannad Haimour as the governor of Anbar Province. He is the governor's spokesman.