Iraq to launch operation against ISIS in Anbar province

Iraqi officials announce launch of military operation against ISIS in Iraq’s Anbar province

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

After ISIS capture of the city of Ramadi in Anbar province in an offensive last week, the Iraqi army has announced a counterattack to take back the city, AP has reported.

The Iraqi army will be accompanied by Shiite and Sunni fighters, Iraqi state TV has declared, giving no further details. 

The town of Husaiba al-Sharqiya near Ramadi was taken back from ISIS on Sunday by Iraqi forces and Sunni tribal fighters deployed to the region.

Last week, the US reluctantly approved the deployment of Hashd al-Shaabi fighters to take back Ramadi from ISIS, despite warnings from US lawmakers of an increase of sectarian violence due to the involvement of Iran-backed Shiite fighters.

“The city of Ramadi could be taken back from ISIS militants in days. It makes my heart bleed because we lost Ramadi, but I can assure you we can bring it back soon,” Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with the BBC on Monday.

"They have the will to fight but when they are faced with an onslaught by ISIS from nowhere... with armored trucks packed with explosives, the effect of them is like a small nuclear bomb - it gives a very very bad effect on our forces," he added.

Abadi said Iraq needs more international support as many ISIS fighters are slipping into Iraq from Syria.

"Not controlling Syria-Iraq border more closely was an error. Syria is in chaos which made ISIS become stronger. We've asked our international coalition partners to tighten control over the border," he said.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has accused the Iraqi army of fleeing from Ramadi although they outnumber the ISIS fighters.

"The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," he told CNN's State of the Union program. 

"They vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they withdrew from the site,” he added.

Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said the government was surprised by Carter's remarks and that the defense secretary "was likely given incorrect information."

TRTWorld and agencies