On Thursday, Iraqi Security Special Forces and tribal militias joined together to launch a major campaign to reclaim Anbar Province from the Islamic State. Anbar, located in western Iraq and situated alongside the Syrian border, has been a temporary base for ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul. The relative safety of ISIS controlled territory in Anbar has allowed the Islamic state to use the province to launch attacks against civilians in the area, according to IraqiNews.com.
Over 2,000 tribal militia fighters are fighting in the assault, an Iraqi Army officer told The New Arab. Nadhom al-Jughaifi, a commander leading a group of fighters from Haditha, told the Arabic publication that “zero hour has come to liberate the western areas.”
The main targets of the operation are the westernmost Iraqi towns and villages closest to the Euphrates Valley. The operation began in Haditha, and at the time of publication, Iraqi Forces and tribal militia had cleared and recaptured over five square miles of ISIS territory in the area.
Al-Masdar News said they received reports in early December 2016 that ISIS had begun to move their heavy equipment out of Anbar and into Raqqa, which is the defacto backup capital for the Islamic State when Mosul falls to Iraqi control.