Qaim town’s gate
Qaim (IraqiNews.com) Iraq’s military command has urged civilians at one of the Islamic State’s last two havens in Iraq to be prepared for imminent operations to retake their region from militants.
“Our people in the dear city of Qaim..
your security forces have decisively liberated all Iraqi areas which Daesh (Islamic State) had desecrated…they are coming for your liberation,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell, the media outlet of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.
“Be close to them (the forces), and far from enemy locations,” the statement said.
It also asked citizens to convince their militant relatives to disarm voluntarily.
“Advice every Iraqi of your sons and relatives, who carried weapons in the face of the state, to drop it immediately, seek shelter at any house in Qaim and hoist a white flag above as the liberating troops enter.”
On Thursday, army forces reportedly airdropped flyers on Qaim telling Islamic State militants to surrender.
Since Islamic State militants took over large areas of Iraq and Syria to establish a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014, Iraqi government forces, backed paramilitary troops and U.S.-led coalition, launched a wide-scale campaign to retake those regions.
So far, the offensives managed to retake Mosul, the group’s former capital, the town of Tal Afar, Kirkuk’s Hawija and Anbar’s Annah.
Only Qaim and neighboring Rawa currently remain in IS grip.
Local authorities and human rights agencies believe Islamic State members are holding tens of thousands of civilians in western Anbar as future human shields, having killed hundreds for attempting to escape.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a weekly press briefing on Tuesday that 2017 would witness the end of Islamic State’s existence in Iraq.