Between Iraq and Syria is a fence. It is about 43 miles long, and a guard tower is located every few hundred feet, manned by squadrons from the Iraqi border security forces. The roughly 10-foot-tall chain-link barrier bucks and rattles in the wind. While the Iraqi forces are proud of the fence, they also have to collaborate with the Popular Mobilization Units, or PMU, which is comprised of Iran-backed Shiite militias. And that cooperation is slowly breaking down. (The Iraqi military is largely Sunni.) As one PMU deputy commander—Abu-Saif of the Liwa al-Toufuf brigade said, the fence is ineffective and poorly conceived. “It is allegedly built to prevent enemies from entering, but it does not work,” he says. “ISIS still crosses. You can grab the fence with your hand and shake it, and it will fall down.”
Fighting among the local forces, divided equally between the Iraqi border guards and the PMU, has left the town divided over the fence: The PMU wants full control, as do the Iraqi border forces. Both have separate hierarchies and each has its own command structure. The Iraqi border-guard commanders monitor their units along the border fence from here, and the Al-Qaim base is comprised in part of several mobile white trailers behind blast walls. In one of the trailers, video monitors display live feeds from cameras mounted within the base. The bland room is full of Iraqi soldiers, and they are trying to avoid talking about the PMU positions south of them, pretending that other forces with whom they should be collaborating do not exist. They want to believe they have control over their entire fence and have not given up anything to what are considered militias from Iran. Meanwhile, they are unclear about where the borders actually lie. As a result, the scene in the trailer is alternatingly chaotic and comedic. Since the rise of ISIS, Predator drones operated by pilots out of a base near Las Vegas have criss-crossed the skies. They relieve soldiers of some of the work of tending the wall. But the physical rampart is being replaced by more digital partitions, anyway, as 21st century inventions circumvent ancient technology. You don’t need a wall when a border can be patrolled by drones. Up in the sky there is a Predator. The lens refracts the late-morning sun. It seems to wink.
[November 6 2018 ]
The vast Anbar desert stretches across almost a third of Iraq, 138,000 square-kilometres of no man’s land to the country’s west. The Iraq-Syria border stretches some 600 kilometres. Iraqi forces say they are doing all they can to prevent these areas from becoming safe havens for ISIL. There are plans to invest over $3m in building a border fence equipped with advanced surveillance and watchtowers. The fence should stretch from Anbar to Nineveh, covering Iraq’s entire border with Syria. So far, only 20km of the long border with Syria has been fenced. The US-led coalition is supporting these efforts, pushing to take advantage of ISIL’s shift from an organised force to an unpredictable and weakened revolt.
[Auhust 31 2018 Isis back in Anbar Province Iraq ]Two stunning reports this month—by the United Nations and Trump’s own Defense Department—both contradict earlier U.S. claims that most isis fighters had been eliminated.
“The Iraqi military and the P.M.F. are the daytime armies,” Michael Knights, an expert on extremism who spent six years in Iraq and is now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me. “They can’t go out at night and do ambushes. They don’t have the overhead surveillance. They can’t do what we do.” As a result, isis has free rein in areas north of Baghdad, including the rural outskirts of Kirkuk, Diyala Province, and in western Anbar Province.
Michael Knights, an expert on Iraq at the Washington Institute: “In the three predominantly Sunni provinces where isis was once dominant—Diyala, Salah ah-Din, and Anbar—the group has now returned to conducting potent insurgent attacks. “The quantitative figures say that isis is operating at an early 2013 level in most places,” Knights said. “But qualitatively, more important, you can see that isis had returned to the very targeted violence that allowed it to dominate the rural areas in 2012-2013.”
[October 7 2017 Iraqis capture Sunni town of Hawijah ]
“The Coalition congratulates the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces on their swift and decisive victory against ISIS in Hawijah Oct. 5″ said Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, Commanding General of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. All the mainly Sunni Arab towns that have long been bastions of insurgency were bypassed by government forces in their push north on Mosul last year. Before the offensive, ISIS had controlled roughly half of the 200 oil fields of Allas and Ajil in the eastern part of Iraq’s northern central province of Salahudi.
[November 21 2016 Sunni Turkmen in Tel Afar ]
MOSUL, Iraq, Nov. 17 (UPI) — The Hashd al Shaabi Shiite-led militia said it took control of a strategic airport from the Islamic State in the city of Tal Afar, west of Mosul.. What happens next in Tal Afar has international implications because Turkey has threatened military intervention in defence of the Sunni Turkmen if the Shia paramilitaries enter the city. A Turkish mechanised brigade has been moved to the Turkish Iraqi border to give substance to the threat.
Last month [March 2006], in a speech in Cleveland, President Bush hailed the achievement in Tal Afar as evidence that Iraq is progressing toward a stable future. “Tal Afar shows that when Iraqis can count on a basic level of safety and security, they can live together peacefully,” he said. “The people of Tal Afar have shown why spreading liberty and democracy is at the heart of our strategy to defeat the terrorists.”
[November 12 Qayyarah Airfield West Delivery
A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron sits on the ramp at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia prior to a mission to Qayyarrah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 21, 2016. The 737th EAS flew the first coalition mission into the airfield since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron flew two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft into Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 21, the first coalition aircraft to land on the airfield since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve. The aircraft landed mere hours after repairs to the runway were completed, a project that’s been underway since Iraqi security forces retook the airfield from Da’esh in July of this year. “It’s taken several months to plan this mission,” said Lt. Col. John Poole, 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron commander. “A big part of it was since before the airfield was taken, we knew that it had been damaged significantly by [Da’esh] as they were either holding the field or then evacuating the area as the Iraqi security forces liberated the field. It’s taken several months to repair that damage.” The airfield, known colloquially as Q-West.
[November 3 FOB Q-West reoccupied ]
Hundreds of US troops have arrived at Qayyarah air base 40 miles south of Mosul to support Iraq’s efforts to liberate that city, and to rebuild to allow US and coalition aircraft to operate there, . Qayyarah air base was recaptured from ISIS by Iraqi soldiers backed by US airstrikes in July and the American forces operating there will mainly provide logistics, supplies and support for the Iraqi offensive on Mosul.
FOB Endurance is located at Qayyarah Airfield West, itself approximately 60 miles south of Mosul. It is another name for FOB Q-West.
[May 26 Anbar: U.S. kinetic events support assaults against ISIL
* Near Fallujah, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL tunnels, four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL artillery piece, an ISIL weapons cache, and three ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Habbaniyah, one strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL bunkers, and an ISIL heavy machine gun. * Near Haditha, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).
* Near Hit, one strike destroyed two ISIL vehicles. * Near Mosul, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, five ISIL headquarters, an ISIL media center, and an ISIL communication headquarters and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL weapons cache, and an ISIL supply cache.
* Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck two ISIL rocket production facilities and an ISIL headquarters and destroyed an ISIL rocket position. * Near Sinjar, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position. * Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes suppressed two ISIL mortar positions.
* Near Tal Afar, eight strikes struck eight ISIL-used bridges and an ISIL-used culvert and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.
Strike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely. A strike, as defined in the CJTF releases, means one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect for that location. So having a single aircraft deliver a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of buildings and vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making that facility (or facilities) harder or impossible to use. Accordingly, CJTF-OIR does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
Ground-based artillery fired in counter-fire or in fire support to maneuver roles are not classified as a strike as defined by CJTF-OIR.
[May 23 US prefers that Baghdad first pursue an advance on Mosul, then Fallujah
Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. was advising the Iraqis at operation centers in Baghdad and Taqaddum. Iranian-backed Shiite militias — whose forces were located on the outskirts of town — reportedly tried to play a role in the Fallujah operation, but Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. military would not support those forces. “We are not going to drop bombs in support of the Shiite militias,” he told Fox News by phone.
[VOA May 22 2016]The U.S. military, which has hundreds of advisers and trainers in Iraq to assist Iraqi forces, preferred that Baghdad first pursue an advance on Mosul, in the northern part of Iraq. But powerful Iraqi militias have deployed to the Fallujah area in preparation for an attack.
[April 2015]American officials say it makes the most sense to push further north toward Islamic State’s de facto capital of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
“It’s what makes tactical and operational sense,” said a U.S. military official. “You secure 50% of Iraq and the majority of populated Iraq, then you push west. You push the enemy back into Syria.”
[December 22 2015 250 to 350 enemy fighters in Ramadi ]
Army Col. Steve Warren, the top spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition, told reporters:
At the peak of the Islamic State’s control over Ramadi, there were up to about 1,000 enemy fighters in the city, Warren estimated. That number plummeted in recent days to between 250 and 350 as Iraqi troops closed in on the city over the weekend. Other fighters likely fled to east of the city in an area along the Euphrates River known as the “Shark’s Fin.” That area — shown in the map below surrounded by green areas now controlled by the Iraqi government — will likely be a focus of the military coalition in coming days.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi make their way toward the city center despite heavy resistance. The operation was undertaken by a mixture of soldiers, police officers and Sunni tribal fighters trained and equipped by the United States, Sunni tribesmen opposed to the Islamic State, with close air support from the United States. On December 21, Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said that he had agreed to the deployment of 200 American ground forces in Iraq to help with the operations against the Islamic State.
[November 10 They can never liberate Ramadi without the locals
— IraqiSuryani (@IraqiSuryani1) August 25, 2015
Most of the remaining Ramadi police officers left the force a month ago. Some hope to lead a regiment of tribal fighters, but a law that will formalize them as a “National Guard” has not been presented to parliament amid fierce opposition. “They can never liberate Ramadi without the locals,” said Lt. Col. Issa Alwani, a police officer who is leaving the force.
“What is making it slow is that there are not enough airstrikes from the coalition to clear targets on the ground,” said Maj. Gen. Qasim al-Mohammadi, the head of Anbar Operations Command. “The coalition isn’t available all the time for Ramadi. They are busy [elsewhere in Iraq] and in Syria, so there’s a lack of strikes.” “The coalition is there, and if there was a battle, they’d assist, but there’s no operation for them to assist with,” said another. The operation to retake Ramadi is being led by U.S.-backed forces, with Iraq’s Shiite militias largely excluded amid concerns about stoking sectarian tension in the Sunni majority province of Anbar. As for air support, Marine Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea said U.S. forces were providing the Iraqis with “what they need.” “I have visuals on how much air support we’ve been given on a daily basis. . . . Just in the last week alone, we’ve done 16 or 17 strikes in the Ramadi area alone,” he said.
[August 27 ISIL humvee IED, kills Iraqi Staff Major General Abdulrahman Abu Raghif (L) and 10th Division commander Staff Brigadier General Safin Abdulmajid]
Deputy commander of the Anbar Operations, Maj. General AbdulRahman Abu Ragheef killed at Al-Jaraishi area N of Ramadi pic.twitter.com/ukYvLAeQay
— IraqiSuryani (@IraqiSuryani1) August 27, 2015
— IraqiSuryani (@IraqiSuryani1) August 27, 2015
An attack on August 27 killed Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman Abu Ragheef, the deputy head of the Anbar Operations Command — who was in charge because the head of the command was wounded a few days ago — and Brig. Gen. Safeen Abdulmajid, the head of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Division. American officials, in early July, laid out the contours of a battle plan to retake Ramadi and predicted that a major offensive would begin within weeks.
[August 28 Ramadi Anbar status September 6]
Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported September 6, 2015– Near Fallujah, five airstrikes struck three ISIL staging areas and destroyed an ISIL building and an ISIL bunker. August 27 — Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings, two ISIL weapons caches and an ISIL vehicle…August 24, 2015 Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle. August 18. Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck two ISIL large tactical units and destroyed six ISIL buildings, two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL recoilless rifle. Fighting is continuing along the city’s southern front and in the northern areas across the Euphrates from Ramadi City. Iraqi and Coalition air strikes have targeted ISIL positions within the city and along its perimeter The government has claimed once again it is preparing to retake the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi. ISIS seized Ramadi on May 17 in what is considered one of the jihadists’ most important victories and most of Anbar, the largest province in Iraq, fell to ISIS fighters.
[June 21 Taqaddum Air Base: “Advise and assist” is the new “training.”]
Baghdad has not sent any new recruits to the U.S. training facility at Ain al-Asad, in Sunni territory, for about six weeks; the United States will instead engage directly with Sunni recruits at Taqaddum. Obama’s new plan will also bring U.S. arms for the Sunnis straight into the new base, bypassing Baghdad’s control.
Of course, like Taqaddum, these lily pads will require hundreds more American military advisers to serve. “Advise and assist” is the new “training.” While careful to say Americans would not engage in combat per se, signals suggest advice and assistance will be dispensed quite close to the front. It is clear the United States no longer believes the Iraqi Army exists. What is left of it is largely a politically correct distribution tool for American weapons, and a fiction for the media. America will instead work directly with three sectarian militias in their separate de facto states (current bases in America’s Iraqi archipelago include one in Sunni Anbar, another in Kurdish territory and three in Shi’ite-controlled areas). The hope is that the militias will divert their attention from one another long enough to focus on Islamic State. It is, of course, impossible; everyone in Iraq — except the Americans — knows Islamic State is a symptom of a broader civil war, not a stand-alone threat to anyone’s homeland.
[June 18 you must remember this]
The deployment of 450 U.S. troops to a Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, could lead to the establishment of more bases to sites Iraqi troops fighting the Islamic State, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said. “Our campaign is built on establishing these ‘lily pads’ that allow us to encourage the Iraqi security forces forward,” Dempsey said. “As they go forward, they may exceed the reach of the particular lily pad. We’re looking all the time to see if additional sites might be necessary.”
The deployment of 450 more troops to a new site in Anbar province that could serve as the prototype for other bases northward towards Mosul should not be seen as “mission creep” in Iraq, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno. The U.S. currently has four “BPC” sites – for Building Partner Capacity – at al-Asad further west in Anbar province, Besmaya south of Baghdad, Taji north of Baghdad, and at Irbil, capital of the northern Kurdish sector. The BPC sites essentially provide basic training for Iraqi recruits in six-week courses.
Ryder confirmed that the BPC site at al-Asad, where about 300 Marines are based, has not been conducting training for the past several weeks for lack of recruits being sent to the base by the Iraqis.
[June 7 Iraqi Army a collection of local militias and palace guards?]
Having claimed to build an Iraqi Army, which seems not to exist, and which one doubts ever really existed, the U.S. military is now trying to build another one, from the ground up. Why will things turn out better this time? Public sources reported some fourteen divisions in the Iraqi Army in 2014. Between three and five were destroyed in Mosul, leaving nine. At most one was defending Ramadi. Where were the rest? Indeed, where are they now? How is it that Shiite militias must be called upon to liberate Ramadi? Has the Iraqi Army has evaporated, or perhaps more accurately deteriorated into a collection of local militias and palace guards?
[June 3 Ramadi Barrage gates closed, cuts water supplies to Camp Habbaniyah, Iraqi base to the east]
Islamic State jihadis have closed the gates of a dam in the Iraqi city of Ramadi that they seized last month, posing a humanitarian and security threat, officials have said.
Isis fighters have repeatedly sought to control dams in Iraq, in some cases reducing the flow of water to areas under government control or flooding swathes of land to impede military operations.
The Anbar provincial council chief, Sabah Karhout, said Isis “closed all the gates” at a dam in Ramadi, which is the capital of Iraq’s largest province.
The move lowered the level of the Euphrates river and cut water supplies to the areas of Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah to the east, which are some of the last held by pro-government forces in Anbar.
[December 13 2014 Tribesmen supplied and trained to fight in Anbar]
Were the Sunni fighters that were repulsed at Hit recently trained by U.S, or Iraqi Army?
[November 23 U.S. advisers training Sunni tribesmen, asks Congress for arms]
Pentagon places importance on the Sunni tribesmen to its overall strategy to diminish Islamic State, and cautioned Congress about the consequences of failing to assist them. The United States plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds to help bolster the battle against Islamic State militants in Anbar province,
U.S. troops, who numbered just under 50,had already established themselves at Ain al-Asad air base.
The goal is to create a bridging force of thousands of Sunni tribesmen before Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government creates a “National Guard”, decentralizing power from Baghdad. The official said the U.S. training operation at al-Asad was expected to get underway this year.
[November 14 U.S.: Anbar must be key ground for the fight against Islamic State]
progress made in Anbar Province, Iraq in 2008
“In Anbar, you’re seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure,” Bush told U.S. troops during a visit to al-Asad Air Base in 2007.
It is the only Sunni-majority region in Iraq and it forms a significant chunk of the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” the vague denomination of central Iraq that analysts have argued formed the core of the support for Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
It’s estimated that 1,332 U.S. troops died in the province after the invasion, nearly one in three of all U.S. fatalities during that time period. It is the only Sunni-majority region in Iraq and it forms a significant chunk of the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” the vague denomination of central Iraq that analysts have argued formed the core of the support for Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
[November 13 Anbar: US military experts arrive at Ein al-Asad Air Base]
[November 8 The deployment of up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq not mission creep]
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough rejected the notion that additional troops reflected “mission creep,” saying the mission remains the same. “We are keeping the limiting factor on the mission,” the official said, referencing the no-combat provisions. “We are adding personnel to better carry out the mission.” Anbar Operations Command has announced that more than 3,000 volunteers from all the Anbar tribes arrived today at the Ayn Al-Asad military base. U.S. expert advisers are at the military base and also at the Habbaniya base. The men are from the Ramadi tribes and from areas around Haditha, Anah, Rawa, and Al-Qa’im.
More than 1,500 fighters made their way from Haditha township to the base, bringing the total number of volunteers to 5,000 men. They were provided today with weapons and ammunition, and their training will continue for 10-15 days, after which the broad security campaign will be launched, with the participation of Iraqi air support.
A coalition of 40 tribes from all over Anbar has now been formed, in order to combat ISIL. The coalition will operate within a cooperation framework with security forces, police forces, and the Anbar Operations Command. The aim is to arm the tribesmen so that they can play their part in liberating the areas that have been taken over by the ISIL gunmen. The military operation that will specifically target Hit.
Roughly 1,400 American troops are currently in Iraq training and advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as protecting American diplomatic facilities in the country. The deployment of up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq is now authorized, previously authorised were up to 1,600 troops, this will now raise the maximum troop footprint to 3,100. Some of the advisors will be deployed to western Anbar province. Some of the additional troops will begin to arrive in Iraq in the next several weeks.
[November 5 No U.S. advisers? force protection considerations in the calculus]
November 4: Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II will run a subordinate headquarters in Baghdad that will supervise the American advisers and trainers.
The United States currently does not plan to advise Iraqi forces below the level of a brigade, which in the Iraqi Army usually has some 2,000 troops. Nor is it clear under what circumstances American advisers might accompany Iraqi units on the battlefield or call in airstrikes. There were 1,414 troops in Iraq as of October 31, about 600 in advisory roles from joint operations centers in Baghdad and Irbil, and at division and higher headquarters. Stars and Stripes | Nov 04, 2014
According to reports, there were U.S, advisers in Anbar Province on November 4, although there were none on October 20.
Then, there were no U.S. advisers with any Iraqi units in Anbar province, where Islamic State militants were advancing in early October and had seized control of several Sunni towns and cities.
One limiting factor for the U.S. advise-and-assists mission is force protection. The Islamic State has overrun many Iraqi army units during the past several months, and U.S. military commanders want to avoid any risk of U.S advisers getting trapped with a collapsing Iraqi unit and requiring a dangerous rescue mission.
“Part of this is a security issue,” said one defense official. “Our teams are taking force protection considerations into their calculus. We are being very deliberate about the location of those advisers.”
Officials also point out that the advising mission requires a lot of planning. “This is not something like you just flip a light switch and suddenly these teams are in place. Everyone has to do a lot of ground work and figure out where you’re going to do the most good,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as limited as much as the beginning stages of a sustained effort that we’ve said all along is going to take some time,” Ryder said.
you must remember this
On October 15, the Provincial Council of Al-Anbar announced that 100 US military advisors have arrived in the province and will be training Iraqi soldiers and volunteers of the tribal force to fight ISIS.
The head of the council Sabah Karhoot said, “100 US military advisors arrived today in Al-Jabbana base in eastern Ramadi and Ain al-Asad base in western Ramadi.”
After 2003, the former British airfield was used by both the United States Armed Forces and the New Iraqi Army as a forward operating base, and is now known as Camp Habbaniyah. From this outpost, combat operations are run from the outskirts of Fallujah to the outskirts of Ramadi. Since 2006 Camp Habbaniyah has grown into a Regional Training and Regional Support Center as well as the headquarters for the Iraqi Army 1st Division. On going Coalition and Iraqi construction projects have revitalized much of the base.
In December 2008, the U.S. Army and all civilian contractors departed Camp Habbaniyah. U.S. Marines had stayed behind to provide the Iraqi Army with additional perimeter security until a time TBD.
In 1952 a second airfield was built on the plateau to cope with the long range and jet aircraft using the base (this subsequently became the Iraqi Air Force Al Taqaddum airbase).  Drawdown operations are in full swing at Camp Al Taqaddum, a base located about 50 miles west of Baghdad in western Al Anbar province. Before the base was in the hands of American military commanders, it was used as an Iraqi Air Force base during former president Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Today it is a vastly developed base that occupies approximately 12 miles of desert land.
Lately forklifts, flatbed trucks and tow vehicles have been the main source of traffic aboard the base as units continuously send equipment and gear to Afghanistan or back to the states.
[October 16 U.S. Military Advisers reported at Al-Jabbana base, 2003 U.S. Camp Habbaniyah, 1936 RAF Station Habbaniya]