Paramilitary commander: IS building up for attack on western Anbar

Iraqi soldiers in al-Rutbah. File photo.
Iraqi soldiers in al-Rutbah. File photo.

Rutba ( The Islamic State is preparing for a suicide attack targeting a town in western Anbar, according to a commander in paramilitary forces fighting the extremist group.

IS is mobilizing fighters near Rutba, preparing for a suicide offensive against the town, said Qutri al-Obeidi, a commander at the local popular mobilization forces in Anbar.

“Security leaderships had informed the army’s air force command of the activity,” said Obeidi, adding that field commanders were closely monitoring IS’s movements.

Google Maps view of Rutba City (marked with red).

Islamic State has maintained control over the towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim, weswt of Anbar, since the group emerged in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled ‘Islamic Caliphate”.

There has not been an officially-declared military campaign to free IS-held regions west of Anbar, but the province’s military command launched a brief assault early January that managed to recapture some western villages before stopping again. Fighter jets from the Iraqi army and the allied U.S.-led coalition have also regularly pounded IS locations in the province.

Local officials believe Islamic State is holding thousands in those regions to use them as human shields against any future security offensive.

The Iraqi government is expected to aim at IS havens in Anbar once it is finished with eliminating the group from Mosul, its biggest bastion in Iraq.

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