The Iraqi army and tribal forces are mounting a military operation to liberate the remaining areas controlled by the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in western Anbar province.
The allied forces have made significant progress towards securing the areas around the Upper Euphrates River, stretching from the northern part of al-Khalidiya Island in the city of Heet to the town of Barwana close to Haditha.
Iraq forces "supported by tribal fighters and international coalition air support managed to take control of most of the desert areas” in the region, said al-Jazeera Operations Commander Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Muhammadi on July 20th.
“The operation is part of a larger military campaign to liberate what is left of occupied areas in western Anbar that include Anah, Rawah, al-Qaim and Akashat, all the way to the Syrian and Jordanian borders,” he told Diyaruna.
Military reinforcements, he said, have reached the Ain al-Asad military base in the town of al-Baghdadi where a 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to support the forces engaged in military operations.
Coordination with tribal elders
“In the past couple of days, we have organised meetings in the town of Amiriyat al-Fallujah, which included a number of tribal elders of the western Anbar area with the objective of looking into ways of reinforcing cooperation between the security forces and locals,” al-Muhammadi explained.
Support from the tribes is key to the success of any military effort, he said, as they are knowledgeable of the local geography, able to identify terrorist elements by name and appearance, and have the expertise and credentials to maintain their own security.
The commander underscored the importance of “the international coalition air force in destroying the enemy’s weapons arsenal” as he noted that “the coalition air force has played a significant role in winning many a battle for our forces”.
Malullah al-Obaidi, al-Baghdadi local council head, told Diyaruna that the tribes of western Anbar are willing to send their sons to join the security forces to liberate the area from ISIL.
“Over the past two years, the people of the western areas have suffered a great deal from the tyranny and oppression of ISIL and now they are fully prepared to take part in any military operation to defeat the terrorists,” he said.
“There are many tribes that are ready to volunteer and join the security forces and we ask the government to supply them with weapons and ammunition,” al-Obaidi said.
Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Mahalawi, commander of a western Anbar tribal force, said his fighters “belong to various tribes that have suffered a great deal from the crimes and acts of the terrorists, and today they want to take their revenge upon ISIL”.
“Our tribal forces are operating under the joint command of al-Jazeera Operations to achieve their goals," he told Diyaruna. "We have thousands of fighters that are fighting alongside the army and the police in cleansing their territories from the criminal ISIL gangs.”
Al-Mahalawi said the joint forces would soon expel ISIL from their remaining strongholds in Anbar "so we can save our besieged people and raise the Iraqi flag from atop all public buildings”.
Al-Qaim district council chairman Nadhem Bardan has called for urgency in rescuing the inhabitants of his town, which is currently besieged by ISIL.
“The humanitarian situation in the areas in western Anbar province, including al-Qaim, is deplorable as the besieged areas there, which are home to more than 20,000 families, are facing all sorts of violations at the hands of terrorists on a daily basis,” he told Diyaruna.
Bardan urged the security forces to quicken their pace of liberation because “ISIL is detaining people and using them as hostages as well as killing and torturing anyone that tries to escape”.