Iraqi forces continue major offensive against IS in Anbar province
ANBAR – Iraqi forces continued their major offensive to free key cities and towns held by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq’s western province of Anbar.
The security forces, allied paramilitary Shiite militias known as Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Units, and Sunni tribesmen fought heavy clashes with IS militants. The Popular Mobilization told China Central Television (CCTV) that the aim of this offensive is to recapture the militant-seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad.
On May 17 this year, the government forces lost many cities in Anbar province including Fallujah and provincial capital Ramadi. As a key city linking Ramadi and Baghdad, Fallujah has become a strategically important area for the Iraqi forces.
“In the eyes of Iraqi government and its forces, Fallujah has been regarded as a base for the IS to recruit its soldiers. Besides, there are weapon factory in the city, which is also playing an important part for the militants to arm themselves. In terms of geological position, it is also a vital hub for logistics,” said Ali Hussein, a political analyst in Iraq.
The first batch comprising four of the total 36 F-16 jet fighters ordered by the Iraqi government also arrived in the country last Monday from the United States in order to reinforce the current offensive in Anbar province.
“If those four jet fighters are properly used in the combat, they will be able to launch 20 airstrikes every day, especially covering those areas that can not be reached by the ground forces,” said Abdul Karim, a political analyst in Iraq.
Karim also pointed out that the targets of the attacks in Anbar province is not only to retrieve key cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah, but to control the borderlines with Syria in western areas of Iraq, which have long been served as a route for the IS to transport weapons and personnel into Iraq. The government forces need to cut off this route in order to encircle and eliminate the militant forces inside the country. -Reuters