Islamic State fighters on pickup trucks in Anbar, west of Iraq.
Anbar (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants have kidnapped 16 civilians from a region in Anbar to an unknown destination, the region’s mayor said.
Muayyad Farhan told Alsumaria News Wednesday that IS militants had kidnapped the civilians from al-Rouda, a district on the road between Rahaliyah and Ramadi which, he said. is totally empty of security presence. He urged the government to secure a pathway for Rahaliyah civilians.
Since Islamic State militants took over several Iraqi cities in 2014, Rahaliyah has been known to be under security control, with barely any breach by the extremist group.
Islamic State has notoriously kidnapped hundreds of civilians and held them as potential human shields since the Iraqi government launched a wide-scale offensive to retake the group’s biggest bastion, Mosul, in October 2016. The holding of civilians and Iraqi forces’ proclaimed commitment to their safety had been one reason for occasional slowdowns in military operations against IS.
The group is still holding some strongholds in western Anbar towns near the borders with Syria. While the Iraqi government has not yet officially declared a security onslaught to retake those regions, fighters jets from the Iraqi army and the allied U.S.-led coalition regularly bombard the group’s locations there, with recent, unconfirmed reports talking about an airstrike having seriously wounded IS supreme leader, Abk Bakr al-Baghdadi.