Iraq News

Iraqi forces free Anbar families from ISIL siege

By Khalid al-Taie

Residents of al-Baghdadi district in western Anbar shake hands with members of the Iraqi forces. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Residents of al-Baghdadi district in western Anbar shake hands with members of the Iraqi forces. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

The Iraqi army, with support from Anbar tribal forces, recently staged an operation to free about 45 families besieged by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in the western part of the province, local officials said.

On August 13th, the security forces conducted "a proactive rescue mission", al-Baghdadi district municipal council chairman Sheikh Mal Allah Barzan al-Obeidi told Diyaruna.

"The security forces had received reports and distress calls from local residents about ISIL's siege of about 45 families in a location "about 20 kilometres east of al-Baghdadi district in Mahaboubih village in al-Baghdadi Island area", he said.

"As a result, military units and a tribal force mobilised immediately, evacuated those families to safe places and extended their control over the area without causing any casualties," al-Obeidi said.

ISIL had been preparing to attack Mahaboubih, he added, and intended to detain the villagers in order to use them as human shields.

With this move, he said, the group intended to disrupt the ongoing military efforts to secure al-Baghdadi Island and the rest of the villages in Heet district.

"There is high-level co-ordination between the military, police and tribal forces to thwart any attempt by ISIL to threaten the lives of citizens or use them as hostages in order to influence the course of ongoing battles," al-Obeidi said.

The operation to save the Mahaboubih families -- around 300 people, including many women and children -- was carried out by a force from the Iraqi army's 7th Brigade and forces from al-Jazeera and al-Badiyah Operations Command, supported by tribesmen, said deputy mayor of Heet Mohanad Zabar.

"The terrorists were besieging those residents and were about to attack them and hold them as human shields or commit a massacre against them," he told Diyaruna. "But the intervention of the security forces was swift and they were able to rescue them in a timely manner."

Blocking ISIL infiltration

"After the victories they achieved in the liberation of al-Khalidiya Island, the security forces are seeking to secure al-Baghdadi Island completely, starting from the villages north and east of Heet, down to the town of Barwana in Haditha district," Zabar said.

The plan is to ward off the risk of ISIL infiltration from all liberated areas and eliminate the group entirely, he added.

The end of the presence of ISIL elements in Anbar is "inevitable", he said, as "they are being hunted everywhere and are receiving blows one after another at the hands of the security forces and tribesmen".

There have been a number of other operations to rescue civilians in the province, said Ahmed Humaid Sharqi, member of the security committee on the Anbar Provincial Council.

"Security forces managed earlier this month, during their progress to liberate the areas of al-Khalidiya Island, al-Bubali, al-Buali, al-Jassim and Tarabsheh, to save many families besieged by ISIL or trapped in combat zones," he told Diyaruna.

"The lives and safety of residents is at the forefront of the priorities for our forces that direct painful blows to the terrorists today and are restoring more areas and strategic locations in Anbar from them," Sharqi said.

Most recently, he added, Iraqi forces regained control of the Waleed border crossing with Syria, severing a vital artery for ISIL that had used the crossing to supply itself with weapons and fighters.

Do you like this article?

0 Comment(s)
Comment Policy * Denotes Required Field 1500 / 1500