Anbar tribesmen have mobilised in support of Iraqi forces along the border with Syria in order to block any potential "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) infiltration, tribal fighters and officials told Diyaruna.
The move comes in response to the situation across the border in Syria, where the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been locked in fierce combat with ISIS fighters in the Hajin area of Deir Ezzor province.
The international coalition estimates around 2,000 extremists are still based in the area east of the Euphrates, AFP reported.
ISIS fighters are "about five kilometres away" inside Syria, Iraq's Joint Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul said November 1st.
ISIS recently managed to retake some territory in Syria that had been seized from the group previously by the SDF. In response, Iraqi forces backed by tribal fighters have increased their deployment and surveillance in the border area.
Tribal fighters and members of the Iraqi forces who spoke with Diyaruna said they are eager to defend their country and will not stand for a repeat of the group's June 2014 incursion into Iraq.
Tribesmen ready to defend Iraq
"The tribesmen are fighters, and all their families are at the disposal of the security forces," said Col. Musa Hamad al-Sind, commander of the Upper Euphrates tribal force.
They are "ready to cut off the terrorists", he told Diyaruna.
"Immediately after the withdrawal of the SDF forces at the border, we mobilised our efforts and pushed forward to support our forces," he said, stressing that the tribal and security forces "stand as one".
"Our tribal fighters have always served as a dam holding off the terrorists, and have made precious sacrifices to liberate their areas," he added. "They will not allow the enemy to repeat the  scenario: The clock is not going to be set back."
All members of the security forces are well prepared to confront any potential infiltration or incursion, in terms of personnel and equipment, al-Sind said.
"Security commanders recently held a series of meetings with the local people and tribesmen, especially in al-Qaim district," which borders Syria, he said.
These meetings underscored the united stance of the security forces and the strong public support for efforts to rid the area of the danger posed by ISIS's sleeper cells and schemes, he added.
'Eager to defend every inch'
"The tribal forces are in full readiness alongside the security forces on the border," al-Qaim mayor Ahmed al-Dulaimi told Diyaruna.
"Everybody is eager to defend every inch of our land," he said. "Tribal, police, army and border fighters are all ready to destroy the terrorists if they try to cross over."
The current deployment of troops to the border includes a large number of tribal fighters from the Upper Euphrates, Western Mobilisation, Western Region Commandoes Brigade and Hamzah Brigades (Albu Mahl tribe), al-Dulaimi said.
This tribal mobilisation along the border with Syria in al-Qaim has been accompanied by the arrival of military units to the border, he added.
"An army armoured brigade equipped with advanced Abrams tanks, armoured vehicles and various troop carriers has arrived," al-Dulaimi said. "Security and tribal patrols, both motorised and on foot, are patrolling the border day and night and monitoring any suspicious movement."
"As for the state of affairs in al-Qaim, the city is experiencing normal activity and life goes on as normal," he said. "Markets and offices are open, and the people stand behind their troops and trust in their ability to maintain security."
'Cornerstone of any security effort'
Iraqi tribesmen are the cornerstone of any security effort, said Ministry of Defence spokesman Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji.
Their participation in the protection of the border "confirms their commitment and responsibilities to the security of the homeland", he told Diyaruna.
"The tribal forces have helped us liberate the cities and hunt down the enemy in its hideouts in the desert, and today we share together in thwarting any terrorist move to break into our country," al-Khafaji said.
"We have reinforced our deployment and have several means of blocking and monitoring" the border, which include the use of earth berms and trenches, barbed wire, electronic and thermal surveillance, he said.
"The border will be a graveyard for any infiltrating terrorists," he warned.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi army's air force has dropped thousands of leaflets calling on people in border villages to be vigilant, al-Khafaji said.
The local population is well aware of the situation and is deeply patriotic, he said, and area residents have demonstrated their willingness to come forward and provide any information they have about terror cells operating in the area.
"The population’s support for the security forces, by informing them immediately of any suspicious movements, makes our forces more capable of destroying the enemy before it reaches its targets," al-Khafaji said.