Joint military units are preparing to launch a large-scale attack on the final "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) strongholds in western Anbar, an Iraqi official said Tuesday (September 12th).
The units -- comprised of army troops, police and tribesman -- have started to mobilise as Iraqi and coalition warplanes intensify strikes on ISIS strongholds.
“On Monday, I visited the city of Haditha and met during the visit with several military and tribal leaders,” Anbar deputy governor Ali Farhan told Diyaruna.
All preparations were reviewed ahead of the launch of a large-scale operation to liberate the westernmost cities of Anah, Rawa and al-Qaim from ISIS, he said.
“Large numbers of vehicles and combat units already have arrived at Haditha and are preparing to be deployed along the contact lines with the enemy near the city of Anah,” he said.
Units from the army, emergency regiments and federal and tactical police have assembled at Ain al-Assad army base near al-Baghdadi in preparation for the battle, he added.
Tribal forces will join the battle
Units of tribesmen also have arrived at the base from Ramadi, Fallujah and other parts of Anbar in order to provide support to the operation, Farhan said.
A tribal force of 1,500 fighters, most of whom hail from areas of western Anbar that are still under ISIS control, also has been established, he said.
“That unit has received adequate training in combat skills for the most difficult of conditions, and its members will have a major role in recovering their areas and consolidating security there,” Farhan said.
The Armed Forces Command will set the date for the operation's launch, he said, adding that “given the scale of the preparations, it is likely to begin within a few days".
"I expect it to be quick and decisive," he said.
Iraqi air force and coalition warplanes have intensified their strikes on ISIS positions in the upper Euphrates, Farhan said, striking several sites this week.
The airstrikes destroyed workshops where car bombs were manufactured and killed dozens of so-called "inghimasis" -- suicide attackers who immerse themselves in enemy ranks.
“Many ISIS militants who have been defeated in Tal Afar, Mosul and previous battles have escaped to western Anbar, mainly to the city of al-Qaim,” he said.
Reports from those areas indicate the ISIS fighters are "broken", he said.