Annah (IraqiNews.com) A local official in the Iraqi province of Anbar has called for more precise airstrikes against Islamic State militants entrenched at the west of the province, saying the strikes harm civilians more than they do the militants.
“We urge preciseness and caution in airstrikes by the army aplnes because they target civilians more than they do Daesh (Islamic State) in the city of Annah (210 km west of Ramadi),” said Saad Awwad, mayor of Annah, in statements quoted by Alsumaria News.
He urged a thorough control by Iraqi troops over the province’s borders with Syria to destabilize IS in the group’s strongholds of Annah, Rawa and Qaim.
Iraqi army forces and the allied U.S.-led coalition have faced accusations of causing occasional civilian deaths in strikes that have targeted IS havens across the country since the group proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq in 2014. The Pentagon said in March it was going to investigate reports that coalition jets killed more than 200 in western Mosul in strikes targeting IS militants in Mosul al-Jadida district. The Iraqi command had, however, accused IS of causing the deaths by booby-trapping civilians’ houses, claiming that reports of the massacres were fabricated by the militant’s media outlets.
There has not been an officially-declared military campaign to free IS-held regions west of Anbar, but the province’s military command launched a brief assault early January that managed to recapture some western villages before stopping again. Iraqi and coalition fighter jets regularly pound IS pockets there.
Local officials believe Islamic State is holding thousands in those regions to use them as human shields against any future security offensive.
The Iraqi government is expected to aim at IS havens in Anbar once it is finished with eliminating the group from Mosul, its biggest bastion in Iraq.