The pro-government paramilitary troops have announced repulsing a terrorist scheme by Islamic State to target the upcoming parliamentary elections, the command announced on Wednesday. A statement by the media service of al-Hashd al-Shaabi said, “as the Iraqi parliamentary elections, slated for May 12, near, the troops became on high alert to secure the border strip fearing any violations in Anbar and border areas.” The troops, along with security troops, “managed to carry out operations on the common borders with Syria in 2017 to eliminate IS members in Qaim, Rawa and Akashat regions as well as securing their vicinities,” the statement added. “Local police and army, backed by al-Hashd al-Shaabi, were tasked with securing the regions and towns that are near to the western desert of Anbar ahead of elections,” it said.
On Wednesday, Qatari al-Samarmad, a commander at Anbar’s mobilization forces, was quoted by IkhNews saying that iraqi army fighter jets pounded an Islamic State hideout in Wadi Hawran, west of the province, and killed 27 Islamic State members, including foreign nationals, in an air raid. He also added that during the airstrikes a number of vehicles belonging to the militants were destroyed. During a weekly press briefing at the cabinet’s building in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that security forces had cleared “14,000 square kilometers” of al-Jazirah, a desert region surrounded by Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh provinces, from Islamic State vestiges. “At a military level, Islamic State in Iraq is over,” Abadi announced, declaring the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in Iraq with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. He also had said that final victory over IS would be proclaimed after al-Jazirah total cleaning.
On Thursday a security source from Jazeera Operations Command announced that security troops have recaptured a region held by the Islamic State militants in their last stronghold in Anbar. “Iraqi troops raised the flag above buildings in al-Sa’eedan region, Northwest of Rawa, after liberating it. The militants booby-trapped the buildings and roads”, as the source said. During the offensive, the militant group’s defense failed and troops, supported by army jets, succeeded in killing many IS members. In related news, Maj. Gen. Noaman al-Zawba’ie, Commander of the seventh division, announced to Alghad Press that the Iraqi army started erecting a floating bridge between Annah and Rawa in Western Anbar ahead of invading Rawa. “The bridges between the two towns are destroyed and cannot be used at the meantime. Thus, another one will be set up so that troops could pass toward Rawa”, as the commander added. According to a statement issued on Wednesday by the War Media Cell, thirteen villages were liberated, forty-five IS members and two suicide bombers were killed in three days in Western Anbar. After the recapture of Qaim town and Ebeidi and Krabla regions in Western Anbar, only Rawa’s liberation is still ongoing.
The Iraq’s Human Rights Organism announced that the Islamic State militants are holding 10.000 civilians at Anbar’s western town of Rawa in Iraq. The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights underlined its “concern for the fate of innocents besieged inside Rawa” and according to the detecting sources at the commission’s offices in Anbar, “Daesh (Islamic State terrorists) are still holding nearly 2500 families, about 10.000 individuals, to use them as human shields and hamper the advance of Iraqi forces”, as he said. IS members have prevented civilians from reaching Iraqi security forces’ safe routes for their evacuation. The Commission also urged to accelerate operations to liberate the town and provide humanitarian aids and needs from local and world organizations. Since 2014 the extremist group have occupied one third of Iraq, including Qaim and Rawa towns, to proclaim a self-styled Islamic “Caliphate”. Late October, operations were launched to liberate these two towns. Iraqi forces have managed, so far, to retake Mosul, Tal Afar’s town, Kirkuk’s town of Hawija and Anbar’s Annah and Qaim. Only Rawa is still in the militants’ grip.
Iraqi forces on Tuesday began an operation to recapture the Islamic State’s (IS) last remaining stronghold in Anbar Province near the border with Syria, a military source said. According to the source, Iraqi soldiers, Anbar provincial police, and Iranian-backed Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi began advancing on the town of Anah in the morning. Their progress was slowed down by booby-traps and mines planted by IS militants, the source told the BBC. Anah, located 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the border with Syria, is one of three Iraqi towns in the Euphrates river valley still under the control of the extremist group. The military source said Iraqi troops in Anah and the surrounding areas were being supported by the US-led coalition’s air strikes as well as military advisors on the ground. The US-led Operation Inherent Resolve campaign against IS’ spokesperson confirmed the information on Twitter on Tuesday.
More than seventeen Islamic State members were killed, while other civilians were wounded in airstrikes in western Anbar, a security source said. “U.S.-led Coalition jets bombarded on Sunday IS locations in Qaim, Annah and Rawa, west of Anbar. Seventeen IS members, including leader, Mohamed Abboud Abd Manaf, were killed in Wadi al-Kasr region, located between Annah and Rawa. IS member in charge of the group’s prisons in Qaim, known as Farhan Rafiq Eteiwy, was also killed”, the source told Alghad Press on Sunday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source added, “the shelling left five civilians wounded, with two of them in serious condition. Moreover, a group’s weapon stash was destroyed”.
Warplanes from the United States-led coalition killed 22 Islamic State militants in western Anbar on Saturday, a senior paramilitary leader was quoted saying. Qatari al-Obaidi, a commander at the tribal forces in Anbar, told Alsumaria News that coalition fighter jets killed 22 members of the extremist group who were in a convoy heading to the town of Annah (210 west of Ramadi) coming from Qaim. He said seven vehicles driven by the militants were destroyed in the raid. The Iraqi government declared victory over Islamic State in Mosul, the group’s former capital in Iraq, in July, and said it was going to proceed towards other group holdouts, including Anbar. Government troops are currently preparing to expel the group from Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk. Late July, Iraqi army warplanes reportedly dropped millions of messages on western Anbar telling locals that liberation offensives for the province were nearing, and advising them to stay away from militants’ deployments.