A week after their liberation from ISIS, residents from the town of al-Qa’im, which is located on the Syrian border in Iraq’s western Anbar Province, have spoken about their relief following the defeat of the group.
Life in al-Qa’im under ISIS was highly restrictive, with residents subjugated under the group’s oppressive rule. Many other residents have spoken out about their similar fate, living in dire conditions with little food or water.
Following liberation, people from the town have come out onto the streets to greet the security forces, some leaving their houses for the first time in weeks, relieved that ISIS’ presence is diminished.
“Praise to God, we stayed in our homes and did not come out. We were patient until the security forces came and liberated us,” said one man. “We are better now. We have seen difficult days, and we have experienced difficult conditions, and we have been away from our families for months and years without seeing them.”
“The injustice [of ISIS] left and the light has arrived with the help of God and the security forces which liberated us from ISIS,” said another man. “We have been oppressed and humiliated. We lived without services, schools, electricity, water, or food, even bread was so hard to get.”
The operations to liberate al-Qa’im were launched last Friday and were completed within the same day. The defeat according to many observers highlights the complete demise of ISIS in Iraq, with many people – including the supporting coalition forces – believing that the operations to liberate the town would take months.
With ISIS’ defeat in al-Qa’im and its reported defeat across the border in the town of Albu Kamal, the group remains less of a cross-border threat than it did in 2014 and 2015, when the group was at its highpoint and controlled large swathes of territory in the region.
The Iraqi Security Forces are now preparing to liberate the final pockets of ISIS control in the country, focusing on building bridges across the Euphrates to make an incursion on the town of Rumana and its surroundings.