Anbar (IraqiNews.com) Iraq forces halted their advance towards Islamic State locations in Anbar province on Monday due to bad weather, a security source was quoted saying.
Anadolu Agency quoted Cap. Ahmed al-Dulaimi, from Anbar police service, saying that sandstorms in western Anbar negatively affected the Iraqi forces drive towards IS locations. He added that the storms, coupled with rainfalls, could cause landmines planted by the militants to explode, which obliged the troops to stop.
No official statement has yet been made by the Joint Operations Command concerning the alleged pause.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Thursday the launch of operations to clear the towns of Rawa and Qaim, Islamic State’s last havens on the borders with Syria.
Since Islamic State militants took over large areas of Iraq and Syria to establish a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014, Iraqi government forces, backed paramilitary troops and U.S.-led coalition, launched a wide-scale campaign to retake those regions.
So far, the offensives managed to retake Mosul, the group’s former capital, the town of Tal Afar, west of Nineveh, Kirkuk’s town of Hawija and Anbar’s Annah.
Local authorities and human rights agencies believe Islamic State members are holding tens of thousands of civilians in their western Anbar havens as future human shields, having killed hundreds for attempting to escape.
A monthly count by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), which excludes security members deaths, said 196 civilians were killed, while 381 others were wounded due to violence and armed conflicts during the month of September.