Hundreds of border patrol guards recently graduated from a course in Anbar and are set to undertake the task of protecting Iraq's borders with Jordan and Syria once the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) is driven out.
During the two-month course at Ain al-Assad military base in al-Baghdadi district, which concluded July 20th, 600 personnel learned how to use light and medium weapons and surveillance technology, said Anbar provincial council security committee member Raje Barakat al-Aifan.
"This force will be in charge of securing and keeping the border strip in western Anbar, stretching north from the city of al-Qaim on the border with Syria and up to the city of al-Rutba and the Iraqi-Jordanian border, once these areas are completely liberated from the terrorist elements' control," he told Diyaruna.
This was the first batch of many graduating border patrol groups, he said, as the Iraqi border with Jordan and Syria requires at least 3,000 personnel to protect it sufficiently.
"Iraqi border forces are currently keeping the Trebil crossing with Jordan and there are military units deployed along the international road leading from the crossing to the liberated town of al-Rutba, and from there to the rest of the cities in Anbar," al-Aifan said.
"However, ISIL elements are still in control of the border town of al-Qaim and other areas in western Anbar such as Rawa and Ana," he said. "There is a major military campaign to take back those towns and shut the border completely in ISIL's face."
Preparing for ISIL's defeat
The graduation of the first group of border patrol troops is "an essential, complementary step to the military efforts being made to confront ISIL's gangs", al-Qaim local council head Nazim Bardan told Diyaruna.
The border stretches for about 220 kilometres between al-Qaim and Trebil crossing, he said.
"To secure such a vast distance requires many specially trained troops, vehicles, armoured vehicles and sufficient weapons, in addition to an air effort, in order to thwart any infiltration attempt and have a good hold on the border," he said.
"These forces must be prepared, starting now, and equipped with all the means they need in order to defend the country's borders and the safety of its territory and citizens," Bardan said.
"The protection of Iraq's western border is the responsibility of the border patrol forces," said Col. Jamal Shihab, commander of the 1st regiment of the tribal mobilisation forces in western Anbar.
"Preparations are under way to increase their number of troops and develop their readiness, especially as liberated territory expands in western Anbar."
Two military brigades are currently holding the Trebil crossing, he told Diyaruna, expressing his hope that once Anbar is fully liberated those forces can fan out to other areas.
"More than 500 fighters from Anbar tribes have been recruited to participate in the current military campaign to drive the terrorists from areas in the west of the province," Shihab said.
"These volunteer fighters have completed physical and military training and are today ready to fight ISIL with their brothers in the army and police forces," he said.
"They will have a major role in keeping security and stability in their areas after they are liberated," he added.