Anbar (IraqiNews.com) One person was killed and 20 others were wounded on Saturday when a bomb blast hit al-Karma region, east of Ramadi, Anbar.
Aref al-Jumaili, a member of al-Karma’s council board, said the IED exploded inside a tribal guesthouse. He said the casualties included a brigadier at the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the militias fighting Islamic State militants on the side of the Iraqi government.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Islamic State militants, who took large areas of Iraq in 2014 to establish a so-called “Islamic Caliphate”, have stepped up attacks in the past few months outside Mosul, the group’s largest bastion in Iraq where a three-month-old security campaign has driven the group out of a half of the city.
The Iraqi army command in Anbar declared on the 5th of January the start of operations to retake western Anbar regions, close to the borders with Syria, from militants. The operations lasted for a few days, recapturing a few villages, before halting again. Observes see confusion regarding readiness to launch operations in the province, pointing out to the fact that the start of the security offensive was not officially declared by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as was the case with Mosul, where government forces have entered a third month of battles with the group.
Security sources said a week earlier that the government had decided to halt battles in Anbar until the end of operations in Mosul. The replacement of the army’s operations commander in Anbar, Ismail al-Mahallawi, cast more doubts on the reason behind the halt.