Iraq Launches Anbar Operation

Iraq Launches Anbar OperationIraq Launches Anbar Operation

The Iraqi government began on Monday a long-awaited large-scale military operation to dislodge Islamic State militants from Iraq’s western Anbar Province, a military spokesman announced.

The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, said in a televised statement the operation started at dawn Monday and that government forces are backed by Shia militias and Sunni fighters, AP reported.

This is not the first time the Iraqi government has announced an operation to retake Anbar, where several key towns, including the provincial capital Ramadi, remain under IS control. In May, authorities announced an operation to retake Ramadi, but there has not been any major progress on the ground since then.

IS seized large parts of Anbar in early 2014 and captured Ramadi in May. Iraqi forces, which had been making steady progress against the extremists in recent months with the help of a Saudi-led air campaign, scored a major victory in recapturing Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit last month.

In a brief statement, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed to “take revenge from (IS) criminals on the battlefield ... and their cowardly crimes against unarmed civilians will only increase our determination to chase them and to expel them from the land of Iraq.”

  Italy to Send Military Trainers to Iraq

Italy is poised to send 110 military trainers to Iraq in an effort to help the country’s security forces in its fight against IS, Iraqi officials announced.

“Up to 110 Italian trainers will be sharing their military experience with the Iraqi security forces this fall,” the Iraqi Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement came following a meeting between Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban and Italy’s ambassador Marco Carnelos in Baghdad.

Italy, which is a member of the US-led international coalition against IS, announced in October 2014 it was sending 80 military advisers to Baghdad in addition to 200 military advisers and three reconnaissance aircraft to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq.