Iraqi Military Announces New Offensive Near Border with SyriaJanuary 12, 2017 in Uncategorized
The Iraqi military announced late last week that it has launched a new offensive that aims to re-capture western towns near the border with Syria from the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.
The operation will involve army and federal police units along with tribal fighters who will target the towns of Aanah, Rawa and al-Qaim, which lie along the River Euphrates. The first target of the offensive will be town of Aanah, which is located about 240 km (150 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Troops then aim to advance westwards along the Euphrates towards Rawa and then al-Qaim, which is located 330 km from Baghdad and which is next to a key crossing on the border with Syria. The offensive comes as government forces continue to battle IS militants for control of the northern city of Mosul.
On 5 January, Lt Gen Qassem Mohammedi, head of the military’s Jazeera Operations Command, disclosed “our forces started advancing from Haditha towards Aanah from several directions.”
Meanwhile on 4 January, a senor Iraqi commander disclosed that 65 – 70% of eastern Mosul had been recaptured and that troops expected to reach the banks of the River Tigris in the city centre within days. Lt Gen Talib Shaghati, head of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, has indicated that IS had carried out hundreds of suicide car bomb attacks since the assault began 11 weeks ago in an attempt to hold on to its last major urban stronghold in Iraq. A spokesman for the US-led multinational coalition supporting the offensive disclosed that troops had made significant progress since launching a new phase on 29 December, when they began synchronising attacks on three axes and the number of coalition military advisers was doubled to about 450.
Last year, government forces drove IS out of much of Anbark province, in a move that saw them retake the major cities of Ramadi and Falluja, however large parts of the vast desert region remain under the control of the jihadist group.