Rawa (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi forces launched on Friday a final offensive against the Islamic State’s very last bastion in Iraq, seeking to end the group’s three-year old occupation of Iraqi territories.
The Joint Operations Command’s War Media Cell said operations launched on the dawn of Friday for the “liberation of Rawa”, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria. A few hundreds of militants there are thought to be holding a few thousands of civilians as human shields.
The WMC added that the psychological war division used a radio frequency to urge militants to surrender and civilians to raise white flags above their houses to identify them.
Almaalomah website quoted Naeem al-Kaoud, chief of Anbar province council’s security committee, saying that operations to retake Rawa will possibly not take more than 24 hours, noting that most of IS militants had fled to Syria.
Iraqi forces recaptured neighbouring Qaim from Islamic State early November. The government launched U.S.-backed operations in October to retake territories seized by Islamic State in 2014. So far, forces took back the group’s former capital, Mosul, the town of Tal Afar, west of Nineveh, Kirkuk’s Hawija, and Anbar’s Annah.
Retaking Rawa will represent a collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in Iraq, and an end to the self-styled “Islamic Caliphate” the group’s founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared from Mosul.
The war against IS has displaced five million people, according to United Nations counts, while hundreds of civilians and security troops were killed.