Iraq News

Iraq begins Anah reconstruction a few days after liberation

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces man a checkpoint in Anah in Anbar province, to enforce security in the city. [Photo courtesy of Anah district news Facebook page]

Iraqi security forces man a checkpoint in Anah in Anbar province, to enforce security in the city. [Photo courtesy of Anah district news Facebook page]

As soon as the sound of gunfire quieted and Iraqi forces retook Anah from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), a flurry of reconstruction activity kicked off to restore services to the Anbar province city.

Anah's liberation on September 21st, just two days after the launch of the liberation offensive, came as Iraqi forces pressed on with a major military operation to drive ISIS from the westernmost part of the country.

The speedy liberation of Anah did not cause major destruction to the infrastructure of the city, Iraqi officials said, but they warned of damage that was inflicted after years of ISIS control.

Two-pronged reconstruction plan

As soon as Anah was liberated, the local authority launched a two-pronged reconstruction plan, said Anbar provincial council member Taha Abdul-Ghani.

"The first phase consists of clearing the city of [ISIS] explosives and ordnance," he told Diyaruna.

Military engineering units have already started work to remove mines and explosives, he said, noting that the group’s swift defeat prevented it from littering the whole city with unexploded ordnance, with the exception of a number of public buildings.

The second phase involves restoring services such as water, electricity, transportation and oil production after conducting a survey of the damage, he said.

The province has formed a special committee headed by Anbar deputy governor Ali Farhan, who visited the city days after it was liberated, said Mushtaq Talib, chairman of Anah provincial council's security committee.

Farhan, flanked by the heads of the water, traffic, sewage and municipalities authorities, inspected the damage to the city, he said.

Restoring telecommunications, roads

Many volunteers from civil society organisations and the private sector have pledged to support the reconstruction effort in the city as soon as it is free of ISIS, Talib said.

People are eager for life to resume as normal in their city, he added.

"Most of the destruction was inflicted on government agencies, which ISIS tried to destroy during its rule and as it was retreating from the city," he said.

The infrastructure and schools, however, remained in good condition compared with other Iraqi cities that were liberated from ISIS, he added.

"Work will commence according to a list of priorities, with key services at the top, including telecommunications so that residents can reach out to others outside their city after years of isolation," said Talib.

After that, the main road connecting Anah with Haditha will be rehabilitated in order to facilitate the movement of trucks carrying food and medicine, he said.

Work is underway to restore the national grid to service, he said, as electricity is now being provided by privately owned generators that operate with fuel provided by the government.

Enhancing security

Strengthening security also is key to Anah's reconstruction, Talib said.

This means reinforcing the local security and police forces in the relatively large city, he said, which requires at least a 500-member strong police force.

The entire city is currently secure thanks to the liberating forces, the tribes and the local police, said al-Baghdadi district tribal mobilisation commander Sheikh Qatari al-Samarmad.

These forces are overseeing the reconstruction of the city, he told Diyaruna.

They helped to maintain stability by imposing a curfew on the local population during the liberation battles, rather than allow them to leave the city, he said.

This has helped resume normal life at a faster pace, he said, as government employees who are instrumental in restoring services had not fled the city.

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