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Humanitarian Catastrophe Looms In Anbar Province As IS Pushes To Take Ramadi

A damaged car is seen after a bombing in the city of Ramadi earlier this month. Provincial officials say that the local security threat in Ramadi is “dire.”

A humanitarian catastrophe is looming in Iraq’s beleaguered Anbar Province, as Islamic State militants launched a fresh push to capture the regional council in the provincial capital of Ramadi.

An RFE/RL correspondent in Iraq reported on November 22 that the humanitarian situation in Anbar Province is the worst it has been for nine months. Anbar residents are not able to leave or enter residential districts because roads have been cut, and local people are concerned about the complete lack of food and fuel, the correspondent said.

Meanwhile, other reports warned that the humanitarian situation in the city of Fallujah, which is controlled by IS gunmen, is getting worse as a result of the continued siege and shelling of the city. Residents are running out of food and medicine, while the Fallujah General Hospital is also under fire.

The hospital warned earlier this month that it was suffering severe medical and staff shortages.

In Amiriyat al-Fallujah (about 40 kilometers west of Baghdad), which is under siege by IS militants, the humanitarian situation has been described as “difficult” and the local authorities have called for humanitarian aid to be sent to residents.

The warnings about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Anbar come after Islamic State launched multiple attacks on November 21 against central and peripheral areas of the provincial capital, Ramadi, 90 kilometers west of Baghdad. Although Iraqi government forces and tribal leaders say they are resisting the offensive, Anbar provincial council head Sabah al-Karhout said on November 23 that the local security threat in Ramadi was “dire” and that local tribesmen needed more arms from the central government. The deputy head of the Anbar provincial capital, Faleh al-Issawi, told Bloomberg that central government support for Ramadi was “so far..very weak.”

IS militants also carried out a mass killing of about 25 members of the local Bu Fahd tribe in a village on Ramadi’s eastern edge, according to local officials.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

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"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world.


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