Today Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the Iraqi forces would begin their operation to liberate al-Qaim city, the last ISIS held city in Iraq and perched on the Syrian-Iraqi border. After the massive loss of Mosul for ISIS followed by sealing all territories in Northern Iraq by Iraqi liberation of Hawija, ISIS was left isolated in the deserts of Anbar province. In the last ISIS held city there is a sister city across the border, Albu Kamal, which Syrian forces are racing towards in coordinated attacks with the Iraqi government on ISIS. Recently Iraq conducted cross border airstrikes on ISIS in Albu Kamal due to the proximity to al-Qaim allowing ISIS to hide between the two cities.
Iraqi forces have made huge advances towards ISIS in al-Qaim, taking control of many major towns and the large H2 Air Base. The large forced amassed by the Iraqi Security Forces is expected to continue operations into the night as the first day nears it’s end. ISIS has not been able to mount the same resistance it once commanded in other towns due to the desert terrain and battled hardened Iraqi troops in large numbers. The trademark weapon, the suicide truck bomb is also seemingly vanished from the ISIS arsenal indicating either a lack of equipment or volunteers in the Anbar province, contrasting heavily to Mosul was saw dozens of suicide cars rushing Iraqi positions every day in the initial phases of the operations.