Official: IS holds 250.000 civilians in western Anbar enclaves

Qaim town’s gate

Anbar ( Islamic State militants are holding more than 250.000 civilians in their strongholds in western Anbar, a local official in the province was quoted saying.

Farhan al-Dulaimi, a member of Anbar province council, told Almaalomah that more than 250.000 civilians were still trapped under IS in the towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim. He said those are prevented from leaving towards security forces.

“Some of the fleeing families fled IS grip through rough roads, and have managed to reach security forces. But the larger portion of those residents are still held as human shields, awaiting much delayed liberation offensives,” Dulaimi said.

The three towns, near the borders with Syria, have been in IS grip since the group emerged in 2014 to proclaim a so-called “Islamic Caliphate”. The Iraqi government, now having finished eliminating IS from its biggest stronghold in Iraq: Mosul, has yet to determine a date for campaigns to retake IS-held regions in Anbar.

Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition warplanes have regularly pounded IS locations in those towns, leaving dozens of militants dead.

Iraq’s war against IS and the group’s reign of terror has displaced more than four million people. Last week, the Iraqi cabinet said 70 percent of Anbar’s displaced civilians returned to their home towns at security-held regions.

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