On July 13, Iraqi authorities announced the launch of the battle to liberate Anbar province — the biggest Iraqi province in terms of surface — from the Islamic State’s (IS, ISIS, ISIL) grip, with the participation of the police, the army, the Popular Mobilization Units and tribal fighters.
The city of Fallujah has been under IS control since Jan. 1, 2014, and according to Iraqi security sources, it is the military operation’s main objective.
Iraqi forces slowly advanced July 14 toward the city and besieged it in an attempt to cut off all of IS’ supplies into the city, which has also been under continuous shelling by the security forces and the Popular Mobilization Units.
Al-Monitor had reported in an article published July 9 that regaining Fallujah from IS would undermine the group’s ability to threaten Baghdad. However, liberating the city could only happen through efforts deployed by the Iraqi state in cooperation with the Sunni population in Fallujah.
On Oct. 16, 2014, Al-Monitor published, “Regaining complete control over Anbar, including the city of Fallujah, must be the essence of the new security plans for Iraq.”
It took the Iraqi forces an entire year to go back to Anbar and achieve the minimum of conditions needed, which consisted of liberating the city through the formal state forces and the population’s cooperation.
It is noteworthy that such cooperation in Anbar to wage the liberation battle was reached under US pressure, with a direct US intervention to support the formation of military units from Anbar’s tribes. This support also included an increase in the number of US trainers at the Habbaniyah military base.