After a short pause the Iraqi forces went back on the offensive in west Anbar. The town of Rihana was the latest one to be freed in the region. It is in the Ana district in northwest Anbar along the Euphrates River. Elements of the army’s 7th and 8th Divisions, along with the tribal Hashd were involved in the operation.
The Iraqi forces are moving to liberate west Anbar in stages, and in two broad thrusts. The first move was taking Akashat, which is in the center of west Anbar near the Syrian border, on September 16. That involved the army’s 1st and 8th Divisions, Anbar police, Hashd, Tribal Hashd and border police. Those units will next move towards the border and then head south to the Walid crossing. That was re-opened recently, but has faced several insurgent attacks. The taking of Rihana was part of the second thrust, which is aimed at clearing all the towns along the Euphrates border with the ultimate goal being Qaim. Unlike previous operations this one will not consist of constant advances. Instead, it looks like the Iraqi forces will take a town, clear the surrounding areas before moving onto the next one. This more deliberate approach is to achieve one of the main goals, which is to free the highways and roads as well as the villages. The Islamic State has planted hundreds of bombs along some of the roadways, so those all need to be discovered and dismantled. So far there has been no serious fighting with the insurgents either retreating or only putting up nominal resistance.
BBC, “Iraqi forces ‘attack last IS bastion on Syria border,’” 9/19/17
Iraq Broadcasting Networks, “Yarallah Announces The Start Of The Process Of Restoring Justice In Anbar,” 9/19/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Iraqi army/Iraqi forces recapture first area in push for IS havens in Anbar,” 9/19/17
Al Noor News, “Urgent … The storming of the center of Rihana,” 9/19/17
Al Sumaria, “Launching a three pronged liberation process, 9/19/17
Waradana, “The security forces liberate al-Rihana district of Ana district west Anbar,” 9/19/17