Iraq News
Security

Anbar police reopen al-Rutbah district station

By Khalid al-Taie

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Local police officers celebrate the reopening of al-Rutbah police station in the border area of Anbar province. [Photo courtesy of the Anbar police directorate]

The Anbar police command has reopened its station in the border district of al-Rutbah, which Iraqi forces recaptured from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) on May 19th, local officials told Diyaruna.

The station has resumed activity after two years of closure, in a step officials say will help to instill stability in the district and secure Iraq's western border.

Al-Rutbah police station is "an important station in the western segment of Anbar province", said station head Lt. Col. Amer Allawi Mohammed.

"Our station is responsible for protecting citizens' security, rights and property within the administrative borders of al-Rutbah district, which also include the Trebil crossing with Jordan and al-Walid crossing with Syria and the international highway to the capital, Baghdad," he told Diyaruna.

"After al-Rutbah was liberated and cleared of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines, Anbar police began to resume work in the station, and have now been able to reopen it so it can carry out its security function," he said.

"We have a sufficient number of police, equipped with weapons and military vehicles, to carry out our duties to the fullest," he said. "An Anbar police rapid response unit, the 20th Regiment, is supporting our efforts to consolidate peace and stability in al-Rutbah alongside the army forces."

These forces have the security situation under "full control", Mohammed said, noting that there have been "no terrorist infiltrations".

Security is being maintained by way of fixed and mobile checkpoints and foot patrols to prevent ISIL infiltration and attacks, he added.

'A new stage of stability'

The reopening of al-Rutbah's police station is "the beginning of a new stage of stability", district mayor Imad Mashal told Diyaruna.

"The station is the link between the citizen and the state's security system, and its reopening is a necessary step that means much to our town," he said.

Local residents will now be able to communicate with the security forces via the police station, he said, where they will be able to report terror threats and crimes and submit complaints about any abuse or violation of their rights.

"The station has resumed work and opened its doors to all citizens," Mashal said, adding that work is under way to resume operations and services in all other state institutions in al-Rutbah.

This is particularly the case for the judicial services, he said, which had been forced to relocate to Ameriyat al-Fallujah when ISIL seized the area.

"Al-Rutbah is safe now and there are good numbers of troops from the Anbar police rapid response regiment, the federal police's 18th Brigade, and forces from the Iraqi army's 16th Division, in addition to border patrol and tribesmen," he said.

The security forces have been digging a 15-kilometre trench around the town to block car bomb attacks and prevent armed extremist groups from infiltrating, he said, and are now almost halfway through their work.

"We hope to finish it in a month," he said, noting that the trench is two metres deep and three metres wide.

Rule of law returns to al-Rutbah

"The resumption of work in the police station in al-Rutbah indicates the return of law, rule of the state and normal life," Anbar provincial council member Athal al-Fahdawi told Diyaruna.

"The reopening of the station will strengthen security and safety in the district, a vast desert area located on the border strip with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia," he said.

"The Anbar police command has prepared a comprehensive security plan for the protection of al-Rutbah and the province's other cities," al-Fahdawi said.

The plan concentrates on "speeding up the reopening of shut-down police stations in liberated areas, enhancing their role and security responsibilities, and providing them with men and advanced weapons", he said.

It also relies on "joint co-ordination between all security and military units, redeployment, boosting residents' participation in security activity and securing the international highway and all public facilities", al-Fahdawi added.

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