RAMADI, Iraq, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Thursday freed a village from Islamic State (IS) militants, as part of a major offensive to liberate nearby towns in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said.
The troops and allied Sunni tribal paramilitary units, backed by Iraqi aircraft, fought heavy clashes with IS militants and drove them out from the village of al-Mohammadi in southeast of the IS-held town of Heet, some 160 km northwest of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The troops killed at least 21 militants in the battles and raised the Iraqi flag on a building in the village, the source said.
The clash in the village was part of the troops' advance northward to drive out IS militants from the militant-seized town of Heet, the source added.
Meanwhile, more troops and Sunni tribal units, backed by U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi aircraft, advanced during the day in two routes from the military airbase of Ain al-Asad, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, toward Heet and the nearby town of Kubaisa, the source said.
Iraqi security forces have been battling IS militants to repossess control of large territories in northern and western Iraq, seized by the IS since June 2014.
Security forces have so far recovered Ramadi, the provincial capital of the country's largest province of Anbar last December.
Currently, Iraqi security forces are fighting to regain the rest of the province of Anbar while simultaneously preparing a major offensive against the IS-controlled city of Mosul, the northern Iraq's second largest city.