Iraq: Gaining the support of the tribes in Anbar is an important step for the Iraqi Security Forces in breaking any links with ISIS in the region.
Iraqi tribes have come out in defiance and protest against ISIS’ recent spate of executions in the country’s western Anbar Province.
In recent weeks, the militant group has targeted Iraqis who have been hunting for truffle mushrooms in the Nukhayb subdistrict and also those fishing in the Tharthar lake, which are both located in Anbar Province.
The group’s targeting of those individuals led to ten deaths and six people still missing.
Despite these attempts to sow division among tribal lines, the group’s crimes have brought them together in solidarity against the militant group, with many tribes coming out to condemn these crimes saying that the residents of the province and the tribes there do not support these actions whatsoever.
“We condemn this terrorist act especially since the sons of the south and the sons of Anbar have suffered a lot. The sons of Anbar are being killed as they try to secure their livelihood,” said Abdullah al-Hamth, the head of the Albu Kreity tribe in Anbar. “We condemn this and do not accept it since we have fought terrorism.”
Despite the official announcement of ISIS’ defeat in Iraq in December 2017, the militant group’s sleeper cells have remained in many parts of the country. Despite the ISF’s operations to discover and dismantle these sleeper cells, many have persisted, using the rough terrain of the vast Anbar desert to hide in the tunnels that they have made during their control of the province.
Seeing that the militant group is continuing to operate within their province, members of these tribes have shown their solidarity with the ISF saying that they will continue to provide support for the security forces to protect civilians.
“Anbar tribes are ready to cooperate with the security forces,” said Ibrahim Hassan al-Fahdawi, the head of the Habbaniya Security Committee. “They were urged to pursue the perpetrators of the Nukhayb crime and the Tharthar crime to arrest them.”
As a response for the increased calls by both tribes from Anbar and residents of the south, the ISF have launched an operation in the Anbar desert on five fronts, which seeks to clear out ISIS militants from the region.
“Today, we will avenge the blood of the martyrs, which was shed by these criminal gangs. This operation in the Anbar desert included five fronts by order of the commander of Anbar Operations Command,” said Mitib Ali Shammari, the head of the Tribal Office in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. “During the next two days, we hope that these desert areas will be completely cleared from militants.”
While ISIS believes that using sectarianism to drive a wedge between the country’s Shia and Sunni residents, Iraqis have proven that their loyalty to each other and their country surpasses the militant group’s failed attempts to disunite them.