More than 3,000 policemen soon will be reinstated to service by the Anbar Police Command after being dismissed in 2015, with a further 4,000 to follow, Iraqi officials told Diyaruna.
Thousands of policemen were dismissed from service when they did not show up for duty after the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) stormed several cities in the province in 2015.
A number of them were reinstated to service earlier this year after the Iraqi government issued an amnesty on December 27th, 2016, but others were officially fired after the 10-day grace period expired.
On October 18th, in response to Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi's orders, the Anbar Police Command announced the start of procedures to welcome the remaining policemen back to service.
The decision to reinstate the policemen came after mounting demands from local leaders and from the former policemen themselves, who staged protests demanding that they be allowed to return to service.
The government recently approved the reinstatement of the first batch of 3,190 policemen, Anbar police chief Maj. Gen. Hadi Kassar Erzaij told Diyaruna.
Another batch of 3,993 also is expected to rejoin the force, he said.
"We have started receiving applications of dismissed employees," he said, adding that all applicants will undergo administrative and security checks.
"The reinstated policemen will be offered intensive two-week training courses in order to boost their physical and military skills," Erzaij said, explaining that although they are already trained, their skills are in need of updating.
The policemen will be placed in various emergency, security and military units, Erzaij said, and will help make up for a shortfall in Anbar police force personnel.
"Before the dismissed employees came back, the number of members in the Anbar police force totalled 15,706," he said, noting that this is not enough to protect the entire province due to its size and vast desert area.
"We need to increase our numbers to no less than 25,000 officers, similar to what we had in 2010, so we can be self-sufficient," he added.
Anbar initiated the process
The decision to rehire the policemen was spurred by Anbar's local government and tribal leaders in the province, Anbar provincial council member Karim al-Karbouli told Diyaruna.
Prime Minister al-Abbadi agreed to reinstate former members of the local police force following an October 12th meeting with delegates from Anbar, he said.
The government decided to bring back over 7,000 out of 9,000 employees that were dismissed since 2015 in two batches, he said.
Several names were struck off the list at their own request, and a few were flagged for security reasons, al-Karbouli said.
He stressed the importance of returning the dismissed policemen to service.
"We need their participation and expertise in the liberation operations, as well as keeping terrorists out and maintaining stability and security in the liberated cities," he said.
Policemen return to duty
"We are now happy to be back and take part in liberating our cities and bringing back security," said Mohammed al-Alwani, who was recently reinstated into the Anbar police force.
"We would like to thank the government and everyone that supported us and had a hand in meeting our demands," he told Diyaruna. "We are ready to do our national duty to defend our people and protect our province from terrorism."
Haditha tribal mobilisation commander Maj. Bahjat Mohammed al-Jughaifi told Diyaruna the decision is a step in the right direction.
"This surely constitutes significant support for the security forces and the tribes," he said. "The returnees will reinforce our capacity to confront and defeat terrorists. We will liberate Anbar with the helping hands of all our people."