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ISIS regaining ground in western Iraq: local officials - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An image posted on a militant website shows Shakir Waheib, a senior member of ISIS, (L),  next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq's Anbar Province. (AP Photo via militant website, File)

An image posted on a militant website shows Shakir Waheib, a senior member of ISIS, (L), next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq’s Anbar Province. (AP Photo via militant website, File)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters have recaptured several villages near Anbar governorate, local officials and tribal figures told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Despite recently suffering setbacks in western Iraq, the Islamist group has benefited from a lack of coordination between Baghdad’s central government and the tribal forces, Anbar provincial council member Adhal Al-Fahdawi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The government’s failure to “send sufficient weapons to the tribes fighting there who ran out of ammunition” has led to the fall of some of Anbar’s strategic cities, such as Hit and Haditha, Fahdawi said.

“The lack of coordination between the government and the tribes on the one hand and the tribes and the [Anbar] provincial council on the other has aided ISIS,” the official said.

According to Fahdawi, “the government’s lack of interest and support” has enabled ISIS to infiltrate the area.

Anbar, 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Baghdad, is mainly under the control of tribal militants supported by government forces.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Anbar tribal leader Sheikh Naim Al-Kaoud said the Islamist group had captured several strategic villages “linking Hit with Haditha down to Ramadi.”

The new ISIS advances have cut off a key supply route between the province and Baghdad, the tribal leader maintained.

In related news, the Anbar provincial council chairman Sabah Al-Karhout called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who also serves as the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, to “urgently” send air support to the Wafa district, in southern Ramadi, to break a siege by ISIS militants.

“The district is in an extremely dire situation amid clashes between security forces, backed by tribal militants, and ISIS,” Karhout said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, ISIS is said to be preparing to attack the historic city of Samarra in the north after losing control over some nearby areas, including Al-Mutasim district.

Prominent Shi’ite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr ordered his followers to prepare for an imminent ISIS attack within the next 48 hours in Samarra.

In a statement on Saturday, the Salah Al-Din provincial governor Raid Al-Jubouri said Iraqi regular forces had “regained control over strategic areas south of Tikrit after two days of clashes.”

ISIS carried out two suicide bomb attacks at checkpoints in Haditha city, killing and injuring dozens, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.