More than 3,000 volunteers from tribes across Iraq’s Anbar Province amassed on November 5 at the Ayn Al-Asad military base in the Hit district, according to a security source at the Anbar Operations Command.
The security source told RFE/RL’s correspondent in Iraq that the volunteers are from tribes in Ramadi and from areas around Haditha, Anah, Rawa, and Al-Qa’im. Another 1,500 fighters have also arrived at the base from Haditha township.
According to the security source, these volunteers are being supplied with weapons and ammunition ahead of a 10- to 15-day military training course.
Expert military advisers from the United States are also present at the Ayn Al-Asad base, the source said.
Following the military training, the volunteers are expected to take part in a security campaign against Islamic State (IS) gunmen in Anbar Province.
Iraqi elite forces have also been dispatched to Anbar and will be deployed in desert areas near Kubaisqa in an attempt to disrupt IS supply lines.
The news of the boost in training for Anbar tribesmen comes after reports of massacres carried out by IS militants against members of the Sunni Muslim Albu Nimr tribe in Anbar Province.
Iraqi officials have said that hundreds of members of the tribe have been executed by IS in mass killings.
An Iraqi deputy and son of the tribe’s leader said that the mass killings were tantamount to genocide and were an attempt by IS to wipe out the Albu Nimr tribe.
Ghazi Al-Kaoud told the pan-Arabic newspaper "Asharq Al-Awsat" on November 4 that IS gunmen were targeting the Albu Nimr tribe in a “policy of genocide” out of revenge because many tribesmen were members of the Awakening (Sahwat) movements fighting IS.
“This terrorist group (ISIS) has a hit list of names of members of the Sahwat movements who also belong to the Albu Nimr tribe, and it has begun using a policy of genocide against them through the massacres it is carrying out on a daily basis,” Kaoud told "Asharq Al-Awsat."
More than 500 members of the tribe had been killed so far, Kaoud said, adding that IS gunmen had also driven hundreds of families out of their homes. The families are currently blockaded in the desert, out of reach of the security forces, he said.
According to one tribe member, Sheikh Naim al-Kaoud, the tribe’s name comes from a legend in which one of the tribe’s ancestors was attacked by three tigers (nimr in Arabic) and killed them all with a sword.
Kaoud told Lebanon’s "Annahar" newspaper that the Albu Nimr tribe is renowned for leading the fight against Al-Qaeda in Anbar Province in 2005 and 2006 and that it has fought IS since January. Kaoud said that Baghdad had been reluctant to arm the Anbar tribes against IS because of reports that some tribesmen had sold the weapons they were given.
Kaoud also spoke of a “vendetta” between IS and the Albu Nimr tribe.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk