Iraqi security forces began surrounding the city of Fallujah on Saturday in preparation for storming the city, while the ISIS stronghold in the industrial district was bombarded by the air force in order to weaken the group prior to the entry into the city, which the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has controlled for more than four months.
Sheikh Rafea Al-Fahdawi, leader of the pro-government Boufahd tribe, also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqi security forces had finally begun to sever the supply lines of insurgents from ISIS in the city, raising the security forces’ odds of success.
He said: “the military operations in Anbar continue, with either clashes between the two sides, or at the level of attempting to disrupt the supply lines of ISIS, which happened recently and for the first time since the start of military operation.”
Fahdawi added: “The military forces managed to take control of the areas of Hamirah, and Al-Tas, south of Ramadi, which are the main supply routes for ISIS, and have started to prepare plans to eject them from the area . . . There are many other areas under the control of the insurgents, including Al-Khalidiyah between Fallujah and Ramadi, with ongoing military clashes, the worst of which are near Fallujah, especially in the Al-Sajar area where fighting continues, and which is seen as an important area to hold in order to control Fallujah.”
Meanwhile, Adhal Al-Fahdawi, a member of the Anbar Governorate Council, told Asharq Al-Awsat that a peaceful solution to the crisis in the province was still possible.
Anbar’s provincial capital, Ramadi, and the city of Fallujah were seized by insurgents—including members of ISIS—at the end of December. While the Iraqi security forces claim to have recaptured Ramadi, the province remains the site of clashes, with the Iraqi military and allied tribal militias attempting to secure other population centers, including Fallujah.
Fahdawi said: “There exists an opportunity for a peaceful solution to the Fallujah crisis, which was proposed by former Anbar Governor Qasim Mohamed Abed, and which came as a result of negotiations with tribal leaders, including tribal revolutionaries led by Ali Al-Suleiman, and the military council.”
Fahdawi added: “The Governorate Council adopted this initiative, except for parties within it who refused to accept the initiative, not by rejecting it publicly, but by employing delaying tactics like missing meetings which needed to ratify the decision on the issue.”
On the economic front, the Iraqi central government has agreed to lend Anbar’s provincial government 85 million US dollars to rebuild the governorate, according to the Anbar deputy governor for administrative affairs, Mostafa Al-Arsan.