Iraqi forces freed a large number of prisoners from an underground jail run by the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group during a battle to retake a western town from the takfiris, officials said on Saturday.
Security forces have recaptured parts of Heet, which was one of the largest population centers in Anbar province still held by ISIL, but other areas remain under jihadist control.
“During their advance to liberate and clear the town of Heet from the (ISIL) organization, security forces were able to discover a large prison,” police Colonel Fadhel al-Nimrawi.
“The prison was underground” and held 1,500 people, who were freed by security forces, Nimrawi said.
Malallah al-Obeidi, a local official in Anbar, also put the number of freed prisoners at around 1,500, saying most of them were civilians.
Muhannad al-Dulaimi, the official responsible for the Heet area, also confirmed the discovery of a “large prison” in the town, but did not say how many people it held.
Iraq began a broad offensive to retake Heet in mid-March, but a significant number of troops were pulled out of Anbar to protect protesters in Baghdad, which may have delayed the drive.