Iraqi forces have launched an offensive to recapture the final bastion of so-called Islamic State within the nation.
Troopers, police, Sunni tribesmen and largely Shia paramilitary fighters are participating within the assault on al-Qaim and Rawa, within the Euphrates river valley near the border with Syria.
The prime minister informed IS militants to “select between dying and give up”.
The jihadists nonetheless management a part of the Euphrates valley within the neighbouring Syrian province of Deir al-Zour.
However they’re underneath stress there from Syrian pro-government forces and a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters who just lately took the town of Raqqa from IS.
“The heroic legions are advancing into the final den of terrorism in Iraq to liberate al-Qaim, Rawa and the encircling villages and hamlets,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi mentioned in an announcement on Thursday morning.
“They’ll all return to the arms of the motherland due to the dedication and endurance of our preventing heroes,” he added.
On Wednesday, Iraqi army planes had dropped leaflets over the realm telling individuals to “go to any home on high of which a white flag has been raised when the liberation forces enter al-Qaim”.
Al-Qaim, about 315km (195 miles) north-west of Baghdad, Rawa and the close by Syrian border city of Albu Kamal are of strategic significance to IS because the group used routes by way of them to switch fighters, weapons and items.
The cities are additionally symbolically necessary as a result of they made up IS’s self-styled, cross-border “Euphrates Province”, which was a logo of the group’s intention to eradicate all of the area’s frontiers and lay to relaxation the 1916 Sykes-Picot settlement.
Some 75,000 civilians are believed to be nonetheless dwelling in western Anbar province, whereas 65,000 have fled since January – largely youngsters, ladies and older individuals.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said more than 10,000 had arrived at camps near the provincial capital Ramadi because the starting of October.
It reported that workers had heard accounts of pressured recruitment by IS of boys as younger as 11, meals shortages and widespread human rights violations.
“We did not make it to this place with out seeing dying with our personal eyes a thousand occasions,” Nafa Yacob, who paid as much as $400 to smugglers for a secure passage out of al-Qaim for his 13 relations two months in the past, was quoted as saying.
“Now we now have misplaced all the pieces due to the journey. We discovered it very tough for my son [who has a severe physical disability] and spouse to go to the latrines. We can’t sleep. We can’t afford to exit of the camp,” he added.
The Norwegian Refugee Council is offering meals, water, primary hygiene and family provides on the camps, however it warned that individuals have been desperately wanting help as a result of a scarcity of sources.
Solely 62% of the UN’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq has discovered funding.