Militants took control of most of the western Iraqi town of Hit in Anbar province early on Thursday, Reuters reported security sources and local officials as saying.
“Ninety percent of the town of Hit has been overrun by militants,” said Adnan al-Fahdawi, a provincial council member.
Meanwhile, ISIS launched attacks on Iraqi bases in two western towns that left at least 17 members of the security forces and 40 jihadists dead, Agence France-Presse reported security and medical sources as saying on Thursday.
Seven policemen and four soldiers were killed when ISIS fighters attacked the police headquarters in Hit, while at least six federal forces were killed in an assault on a major army base in Ramadi.
Twenty ISIS attackers were killed in each attack, senior officers said, adding that five jihadists were still holed up in a building in Hit while the Ramadi attack had been successfully repulsed.
In an interview with BBC on Wedneday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Abadi said “we have contained this [ISIS] threat, but being in a battle and having looked at the threat they posed before, I cannot guarantee 100 percent [that] their existential threat is not there.”
He described the threat emanating from ISIS as one that affected the international community, including regional countries such as Iran.
“I am asking for all international efforts,” Abadi told the BBC, adding “I want an international umbrella, I don’t know what is going to happen in the future.”
Meanwhile, Australian air force personnel have completed their first operational missions in Iraq as part of efforts to combat ISIS but Baghdad said it was still considering if Canberra could join air strikes.
Iraq’s ambassador to Australia on Thursday gave no timetable for when his government might decide on Australia’s request to launch airstrikes against ISIS, the Associated Press reported.
Australia has six F/A-18F Super Hornet jet fighters waiting on standby in the United Arab Emirates for final authorization to begin combat missions with the U.S.-led coalition.
“We are seriously considering the request from Australia,” Ambassador Mouayed Saleh told The Associated Press.