Security

ISIS rest-houses destroyed in western Anbar operation

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi security and tribal forces exchange information with locals during a military operation in the western Anbar desert in August. [Photo courtesy of the Upper Euphrates Force]

Iraqi security and tribal forces have destroyed three rest-houses belonging to the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in the desert in Anbar province, according to a tribal leader speaking with Diyaruna.

The rest-houses were destroyed after an "expansive 72-hour military operation", Anbar tribal commander Sheikh Qatari Samarmad al-Obeidi said Friday (August 14th).

Security and tribal forces combed a large desert area north and south of the Euphrates river, near the border with Syria, he said.

The areas of Wadi al-Qathf, Wadi Halkoum, al-Hadra, Mudaisis, al-Mudhim, al-Sukkariyat, al-Husseiniyat, Shaabani, Sukhairiyat, Kubaysa, Akashat, T-One, Abu Rummana, Abu Dalaya, al-Shamiya and al-Jazeera were combed in the operation.

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Iraqi soldiers discover an ISIS weapons cache near the town of al-Qaim on the border with Syria in July. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Al-Obeidi said seven sorties joined the search from above, as Iraqi helicopters and F-16 fighter jets supported the army, police and tribal units operating on the ground.

Two of the rest-houses the Iraqi air force bombed were located in tunnels in the al-Shamiya desert, and the third one was in the al-Jazeera area, according to al-Obeidi.

An initial survey of the sites indicated that ISIS forces had advanced weapons, ammunition and supplies in the rest-houses, where ISIS elements were likely hiding, he said, noting that ISIS probably incurred fatalities in the bombings.

This was part of a series of joint operations periodically executed by security and intelligence forces and Anbar tribal fighters, aided by the local population, he said.

ISIS attack leads to arrest of 15 suspects

These operations aim to exert further pressure on remaining ISIS elements, who continue to carry out attacks in the area, the latest being a July 28th attack on the Martyr Mohammed al-Karawi checkpoint in al-Akaba, Heet district.

The ISIS attack killed Brig. Gen. Ahmed Abdul Wahid Mohammed al-Lami, who commanded the 7th Infantry Division's 29th Brigade. A first lieutenant was also killed in the attack and two soldiers were injured, al-Obeidi said.

In light of the ISIS attack on the checkpoint, he said, "a series of raids and investigations... have led to the arrest of 15 suspects, who are still being interrogated".

However, al-Obeidi said, the July 28th incident "does not mean there is an increase in terrorist activity, as the remnants of ISIS elements are now weaker since they lack support and face a shortage of supplies".

"Remaining ISIS fighters are trapped in their hideouts in the desert, almost motionless for fear of being detected by surveillance cameras and reconnaissance drones that roam the isolated areas' skies day and night," al-Obeidi said.

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