Al-Baghdadi (Al-Anbar), Asharq Al-Awsat—Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters are continuing to advance towards the strategic Ain Al-Assad air base where US Marines are training Iraqi troops, a local commander told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The move comes as part of ISIS’s attempts to take full control of the strategic Anbar city of Al-Baghdadi, close to the Ain Al-Assad airbase. Fighting in the city between local militia and ISIS continues. Although the jihadists are in control of a number of the town’s districts, local forces have been able to prevent ISIS fighters from gaining a major foothold in Baghdadi.
Baghdadi security official Shaaban Barzan Al-Obeidi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Although ISIS has tasted bitter defeat in Baghdadi, they are congregating their forces and re-launching their attacks on the city every now and then, despite their losses.”
Obeidi praised the commitment of the local Baghdadi forces, as well as the efforts of the US-led anti-ISIS international coalition in the area. Coalition fighter jets have launched a number of sorties in recent days targeting ISIS positions on the outskirts of Baghdadi.
“We have suffered losses . . .But we have been able to kill a lot of the ISIS fighters,” Obeidi said.
Although ISIS has failed to take control of the strategic Anbar town, ISIS fighters have surrounded the western Iraqi town and cut it off from the nearby military base.
Fierce fighting between local tribal forces and ISIS broke out in the western Iraqi town earlier this month, with ISIS quickly overrunning a number of Al-Baghdadi districts before being pushed back.
ISIS also previously attacked the nearby Ain Al-Assad airbase. Around 25 ISIS militants carried out the attack, led by several suicide bombers, who managed to come close to the base on Friday before being repulsed by Iraqi security forces. Although US forces had scrambled drones and fighter jets to deal with the incursion, the ISIS attack was quickly dealt with by Iraqi military forces.
Approximately 320 US Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base.