Anbar (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi security and allied militias clashed Friday with Islamic State militants near Anbar province’s borders with Syria, with nine militants left dead according to militia sources.
Border guards, backed by al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) rebuffed an attack by IS militants from several directions on a checkpoint in Okashat, west of Anbar, according to PMU local leader Wathiq al-Fartousi.
In a separate incident, nine Islamic State fighters were killed when security and militia troops detected their convoy near the borders with Syria, according to Shaker al-Rishawi, a commander of a so-called, pro-government “Desert Eagles Brigade”.
According to Rishawi, who was quoted by al-Journal News website, the forces detected the group near al-Waleed border crossing with Syria. They were trying to pass to IS-held town of al-Qaem, according to Rishawi.
He said attempts by IS militants to sneak into Iraqi soil from Syria have receded by 60 percent due to losses they have been facing in Mosul. Is fighters currently have no other route except between Syria’s Boukamal region and Qaem.
Anbar’s western towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaem have been under Islamic State control since the group’s emergence in 2014, and thousands of civilians are said to be held as potential human shields, according to local officials.
Fighter jets from Iraqi and the allied U.S.-led coalition have occasionally pounded the extremist group’s locations in the province. There has not been an official campaign to retake those regions, but it is believed the Iraqi government will turn to Anbar and other provinces hosting IS pockets once it is done expelling the militants from Mosul, IS’s largest bastion in Iraq.