Iraqi militias start fighting back against IS in Ramadi
About 3,000 militia members in Iraq have begun moving against the Islamic State militants after the fall of the city of Ramadi last week, officials say.
The pro-government forces say they have retaken Husayba, east of Ramadi.
Ramadi - the capital of Anbar province - is only 110km (70 miles) west of Baghdad. Its fall was seen as a major embarrassment for the government.
About 500 people died in the city, and more than 40,000 - a third of the population - have fled.
It looks very much as though the operation which has begun near Ramadi in Anbar province is being carried out without much involvement by the Iraqi army. Last weekend, 200 Islamic State fighters captured Ramadi from 10 times that number of Iraqi army soldiers.
Military observers here maintain that the army simply doesn't have the determination to match the commitment of the Islamic State, and that the so-called Popular Mobilisation militias are the only ones with the necessary drive and determination.
But there's a problem, though. The majority of the volunteers are Shia Muslims, and there has been anxiety about using them in Anbar province, which is overwhelmingly Sunni. But the groups do contain Sunni fighters as well, and the government maintains they operate under strict control.
The Iranian-backed Shia militias of the Popular Mobilisation (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) launched their operation out of the Iraqi airbase at Habbaniya, about 20 miles (30km) from Ramadi.
A Sunni tribal leader in An- bar, Sheikh Rafia Abdelkarim al-Fahdawi, told AFP news agency that his volunteers had also been deployed - in addition to police, Special Forces and army troops.
Iraqi police spokesmen told news agencies that IS militants had been driven from Husayba and it was now under the control of pro-government forces.
"Ramadi's fall was a massive blow to the Iraqi army, to the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and to the US, which had encouraged his policy of rely- ing on the regular armed forces and police and ruling out a role for the militias," says the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut.
The Shia militias played a key role in re-capturing another mainly Sunni provincial capital, Tikrit, from IS at the end of March.
Anbar province covers a vast stretch of the country west from Baghdad to the Syrian border, and contains key roads that link Iraq to both Syria and Jordan.