The much awaited multi-pronged offensive to free the last Islamic State bastions within Iraq started. The West Anbar campaign took its first major town, Ana along the Euphrates River. Shirqat in northern Salahaddin was also attacked along with neighboring Hawija in southern Kirkuk.
The joint Iraqi forces continued their move along the Euphrates River in northwest Anbar. At the start of the day there was fighting in Ana along with some of the surrounding areas. The insurgents attempted to set off car bombs at the entrance of Ana to prevent the entry of the government’s units, but that was only a temporary impediment as the town was quickly seized. This was the first large village liberated so far. The goal of this campaign is to not only take the last remaining urban enclaves, but clear the border and the roads and highways many of which are littered with IEDs.
At the same time, the Iraqi forces pushed on Shirqat in northern Salahaddin and Hawija in southern Kirkuk. Elements from the 9th Division, the Hashd, Rapid Reaction forces, and Federal Police seized 8 villages in Shirqat district by the end of the day. Hawija was attacked by the Golden Division, Federal Police, army and Hashd along six axes. Due to political disputes between Baghdad and Irbil over the up-coming Kurdish independence referendum the Peshmerga announced they would not take part in the battle. They would only be holding their lines to the north. 22 villages were said to be freed. Deputy Hashd commander Abu Muhandis told the press that the Iraqi forces would do Shirqat first, and then move on Hawija itself. Several Iraqi commanders believe that the Islamic State is done for as a conventional fighting force in the country. They wanted to take on west Anbar, Shirqat, and Hawija all at the same time to push forward the government’s advantage and quickly put an end to all of the insurgents’ holdings. That is finally happening. If not for the arguments between the central and Kurdish regional governments this might have actually started sooner. So far, IS has not put up much resistance, and this could be over in just a few days to weeks. When it’s concluded, this will be an important milestone in the war, although not its conclusion as the Islamic State is rebuilding as an insurgency.
Al Baghdadiya News, “Iraqi official: 48 hours ends with Daash expelled from Ana,” 9/21/17
BBC, “Iraqi forces launch offensive to retake Hawija from IS,” 9/21/17
Al Ghad Press, “Liberation of east Rawa Island to cut supply lines,” 9/21/17
Al Gharbiya News “Joint operations announce the release of Ana” 9/21/17
Hath Al-Youm, “Federal Police complete the first stage of the liberation of Shirqat,” 9/21/17
Iraq News Center, “Iraq News Salahaddin Urgent announcement of the start of military operations to control the left coast of the Shirqat district,” 9/20/17
Al Maalomah, “Yarallah announces the liberation of 22 villages in the liberation of Hawija,” 9/21/17
Al Mada, “Joint forces surround the center of Ana and open safe corridors for civilians,” 9/21/17
Mostafa, Nehal, “Iraqi troops recaptures twenty villages in Kirkuk’s Hawija,” Iraqi News, 9/21/17
Reuters, “Iraq launches offensive on Hawija, an Islamic State-held region near oil city Kirkuk,” 9/20/17
Rudaw, “Iraqi forces launch Hawija offensive without Peshmerga,” 9/21/17
- “Peshmerga forces will not participate in the liberation of Hawija,” 9/21/17
Al-Saadi, Amir, “Army wrests 5 villages from Daesh in Iraq’s Saladin,” Anadolu Post, 9/21/17
Shafaaq News, “Iraqi forces storm Shirqat from the northern axis and recapture villages from the hands of Daash,” 9/21/17
Sherwani, Leyla, “Anah in Western Anbar Liberated from IS,” Bas News, 9/21/17
Al Sumaria, “Joint operations: Our forces began liberating areas in east Shirqat and Hawija,” 9/21/17
Xinhua, “Iraqi forces push further toward IS-held Hawijah near Kirkuk,” 9/21/17
Wardana, “The popular crowd frees four district in Shirqat,” 9/21/17