Anbar tribesmen have expressed their readiness to join forces with the Iraqi military and push into the last "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) strongholds in their province.
"A force from the Anbar tribes is now ready to join the army in fighting ISIS, with the aim of liberating the cities of al-Qaim, Anah and Rawa," said Sheikh Aawad Hussein al-Jughayfi, who commands a unit of tribal fighters in Haditha.
The force includes about 6,000 fighters from various tribes of the province, distributed into five regiments from Ramadi, two from Haditha, and four from cities still under ISIS control, he told Diyaruna.
Over the past months, these fighters have received intensive physical and military training at Ain al-Assad base from experts and trainers from the international coalition and al-Jazeera Operations Command officers, he said.
"The force is well equipped in terms of weapons," he said, but is in need of additional military vehicles and equipment to enhance its combat capabilities.
"During our recent meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi, he highly appreciated the costly sacrifices of the Anbar tribes in the war against ISIS," al-Jughayfi said.
Most Anbar tribes have been fighting ISIS since the group overran western parts of the province in the summer of 2014.
In August 2014, al-Jughayfi formed the Lions of Haditha, also known as al-Jughayfa free fighters. The group locked horns with ISIS, refusing to surrender, he said.
Tribesmen primed for combat
Anbar tribesmen are prepared to join the combat when operations are launched, al-Jughayfi said, stressing the need to secure the borders between Iraq and Syria and cut off ISIS’s last supply lines.
Iraqi warplanes on Wednesday (July 26th) dropped thousands of leaflets over Anah and Rawa that instructed residents to keep away from ISIS sites and tune in to the radio for information from the army.
The leaflets included phone numbers to call to report ISIS sites to the security forces, as well as victory slogans denouncing ISIS and hailing the approaching liberation of the western Anbar towns, Iraq's Joint Operations Command spokesman said in a speech aired by Iraq's state-run television station.