Iraqi security forces and supporting militias have retaken the key town of Karma from ISIS as part of a push to recapture the city of Falluja, according to the spokesman of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command.
The recapture of Karma, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Falluja, means that most territory east of the city is now controlled by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
It is the first significant victory for Iraqi forces since they launched their campaign Monday to reclaim the city of Falluja, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, from the terror group.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi posted a tweet in Arabic congratulating the people of Iraq on the “liberation of al-Karma” and ordered security forces to protect civilians there.
Some fighting is ongoing to clear the western parts of the town of small pockets of ISIS fighters.
Iraqi security forces have spent the better part of a year trying to retake Karma from the terror group, suffering heavy losses.
The U.N. has said it has fears for thousands of families trapped in Falluja, a traditionally Sunni-dominated city, ahead of the government advance.
Falluja was the first Iraqi city to be captured by ISIS when it fell in January 2014.
Following a determined push-back by Iraqi forces, it remains, along with Mosul, one of the last two Iraqi cities held by the terror group.