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40% of Anbar's cities in ruins: Iraqi official - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Smoke plumes are visible over buildings in the Iraqi town of Hit, in western Anbar province, 85 miles (140 km) west of Baghdad. (AP Photo)

Smoke plumes are visible over buildings in the Iraqi town of Hit, in western Anbar province, 85 miles (140 km) west of Baghdad.
(AP Photo)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Reconstruction in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, large parts of which remain under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, will cost more than 18 billion dollars, a local official said on Tuesday.

Arkan Khalaf Al-Tarmouz, head of the Anbar Reconstruction Committee, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS remains in control of more than 85 percent of territory in Anbar, adding that there has been large-scale destruction across Iraq’s largest province in the fighting between ISIS and government forces.

“Initial estimates indicate that 40 percent of Anbar’s cities have been destroyed, including major infrastructure and residential areas,” Tarmouz said.

More than 38,000 homes have been destroyed in provincial capital Ramadi alone, the Iraqi official added, decrying the sheer scale of the destruction in Iraq’s largest province. ISIS fighters first entered Anbar in December of last year, taking control of large swathes of Iraq’s western-most province, including the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

Although some Sunni tribes initially supported the Islamist fighters, rebelling against the government of former Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki over his perceived sectarian bias, the conflict against ISIS has escalated and become further entrenched following the appointment of Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi in August.

Allied Sunni tribes, known as “national mobilization forces,” continue to fight ISIS in Anbar, although there have been complaints that Baghdad and the US-led anti-ISIS alliance is not doing enough to confront the jihadist group in the governorate. The fighting has become increasingly piecemeal in recent weeks, with ISIS being forced to relinquish control of some areas only to secure control of others.

“More than 60 bridges have been destroyed in Anbar. In addition to this, 40 residential areas have been completely destroyed, as have dozens of government buildings,” Tarmouz told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Head of the Anbar Reconstruction Committee also claimed that ISIS has forcibly dismantled significant government infrastructure in the province, including laboratories and hospitals, transferring equipment out of Iraq’s western province to areas under its control in Syria.