Iraqi forces secure an area near the Grand Mosque in central Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. AFP PHOTO
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Foreign special forces have been carrying out raids on a Daesh (ISIS) stronghold in northern Iraq ahead of an offensive planned later this year to retake Mosul, the largest city under the group's control, Iraq's parliamentary speaker said.Both the U.S. and Iraqi military have denied that U.S. forces have carried out military operations on the ground in Hawijah since October, when U.S. Special Forces rescued 69 Iraqis in a raid that killed one U.S. commando.Washington said last month it was deploying a new force of around 100 special operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against Daesh there and in neighboring Syria, without providing details.U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the international coalition bombing Daesh, rejected the media reports this week, calling them "Iranian disinformation" aimed at distracting from Iraqi military gains against Daesh elsewhere.He told Reuters that coalition forces in Iraq have not operated on the ground since the October operation. The militias, many of which fought U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion, have decried the reports of more recent raids as U.S. attempts to divide Iraq.
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