Offensives to launch in Islamic State’s bastions in Anbar end of month

Smoke is seen as members of the Iraqi Army clash with Islamic State fighters at a frontline in north west of Mosul, Iraq, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Anbar ( Military Operations to retake Rawa and Qaim, the Islamic State’s last two bastions in western Anbar, will be launched by end of the month, the security committee of Anbar provincial council said.

“Military troops are ready for the battle. However, no instructions regarding participation of al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces] in the operations are clear,” the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Na’im al-Ka’oud, head of the committee, as saying. “The visits made by some leaders can be considered as follow-up on situations to acknowledge developments.”

Tribal fighters, Jazeera and Badiya operations commands and local police will take part in the battles, he said, ruling out that confrontations at the disputed regions would affect the offensives.

“Our information indicates that IS leaders fled Qaim and Rawa toward Syria and Libya,” Ka’oud said expecting the battle to be easy, except for the IEDs and booby-trapped houses.

Anbar’s western towns of Qaim and Rawa have been held by the extremist group since 2014, when it occupied one third of Iraq to proclaim a self-styled Islamic “Caliphate”.

Iraqi army announced the total recapture of the town of Annah and neighboring Rayhana area last month. Troops also liberated Akashat region, between Rutba town, on borders with Jordan, and Qaim, on borders with Syria.

Iraqi troops were able to return life back to normal in the biggest cities of Anbar including Fallujah, Ramadi and others after recapturing them in 2015 and 2016.

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