Rumana is located in the westernmost part of Iraq, right on the border with Syria, and is part of the district of al-Qaim, within the province of Anbar. The region has been an ISIS stronghold for over 3 years, but recent victories on the part of the Iraqi Army against ISIS in western Anbar led to the liberation of the area.
Civilians from Rumana are now able to recount the oppressive rule under which they lived during ISIS’ reign. Women speak of how they were forced to wear clothing against their will and how men were lashed for smoking cigarettes.
Due to the harsh rules imposed by ISIS, the resident of Rumana were restricted in their economic access to other areas of Iraq so people were suffering financially. Civilians recount how they felt forced to resort to smuggling in order to make ends meet.
Reisdents of Rumana are expressing their joy at the liberation of their town from ISIS and thank the Iraqi forces for expelling the terrorist group from their homes.
The operation to liberate Rumana has been part of the efforts to eliminate ISIS in all areas of western Anbar, which is the terrorist group’s final stronghold and place of refuge in all of Iraq, after they were expelled from all other provinces.
The Iraqi forces have recorded a series of military victories in western Anbar over the past two months. The towns of Akashat, Anah and al-Qaim have already been liberated. Rawa is the last remaining urban stronghold in western Anbar and the whole of Iraq. The liberation of Rumana will allow the Iraqi forces to have access to the bridge that connects the town to Rawa.
Furthermore, despite their depleted numbers and low morale, Iraq’s Human Rights body has warned that ISIS militants are currently holding up to 10,000 civilians hostage in the town and will likely use these civilians as human shields in an attempt to slow down the advance of the Iraqi forces.