Optimism fills the air in Iraq, as the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have made significant progress over the last 3 weeks, attacking multiple Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) strongholds north of Baghdad and in areas that were once considered untouchable (e.g. Fallujah).
For months, ISIS militants have attempted to break-through the ISF’s frontline defenses in the territory north of Baghdad with multiple assaults that originally produced impressive results. However, at the dawn of the New Year, the ISF bounced back and launched their own counter-offensive geared to push the ISIS militants away from the nation’s capital and further northwest in order to create a much-needed buffer-zone.
In the matter of 7 days, the ISF’s 59th Brigade – in coordination with local tribes, Badr Brigades, and Kata’eb Hezbollah – retook the villages of Tal Mas’oud, North Halasba, and Madrasat Albu Asl, killing 18 ISIS militants in the process. The ISF also managed to secure the strategic main road from Baghdad to Haditha; they also managed to destroy a number of armored vehicles mounted with 23mm anti-aircraft machine guns. Firefights were also reported at Sab Al-Bour, where the ISF is currently engaged in a fierce battle with ISIS.
The ISIS stronghold of Fallujah is steadily facing a besiegement by the ISF in the coming weeks, after the latter captured the imperative industrial facility 4km away from the city-center. Northeast of Fallujah, the ISF killed a confirmed 37 militants at Karma before they were able to advance past the outskirts of the village. With the ISF only a few kilometers away from Fallujah, ISIS will have to rally their forces to thwart the former’s imminent infiltration.
ISIS militants attempted to breach the ISF’s defenses at a military facility at Al-Nukhayb (west Al-Anbar); however, they were quickly repelled due to a barrage of mortar shells and gunfire that crippled their attack. Also, in the Al-Anbar Governorate, the ISF destroyed 2 armored vehicles that were operated by 2 suicide bombers in Sijariyyah; this area is located east of Ramadi.
In other areas, the ISF recaptured Sakkara, Kilo 120, Kilo 80, and Kilo 60 on the international highway between Iraq and Jordan. According to a source, the international highway is preparing to be reopened after the ISF cleared most of the roads. The ISF was also able to capute Zidariyyah in west Haditha and Al-Niba’yyi last weekend.