The Islamic State took control of a town in Anbar province in western Iraq yesterday and executed 21 members of the Sunni Awakening tribal movement in another town late last week.
Islamic State fighters launched an assault on al Wafa, which is west of the provincial capital of Ramadi, on Dec. 12 and defeated Iraqi security forces and local tribal fighters. Nineteen policemen were killed in the fighting. Reuters reports:
Police forces backed by few members of government-paid Sunni tribal fighters tried to prevent the militants from crossing the sand barrier surrounding the town, but were overwhelmed when sleeper cells from inside opened fire on them, the mayor and a police officer said.
Police forces and the pro-government Sunni fighters were forced to retreat to a nearby police-brigade headquarters bordering their town.
“We are trapped inside the police 18th brigade. Islamic State managed to surround us today. If no government forces were sent to help us then we will be exterminated,” the mayor, who was with the police forces that withdrew from al-Wafa, said by telephone.
Additionally, near the town of Baghdadi, which is just outside of Al Asad Airbase, the Islamic State captured 21 Awakening fighters on Dec. 10 and executed them two days later. “All the bodies had bullet wounds to the head and chest and were dumped inside an orchard near the Islamic-State controlled town of Kubaisa,” Reuters reported.
The Islamic State’s Anbar division released photographs of the fighting in Baghdadi on Dec. 11. The photos show its fighters firing on Iraqi personnel, then displaying the bodies of dead security personnel. Additionally, the Islamic State showed photos of captured vehicles and weapons, including US-made Humvees, mortars, rockets, heavy machine guns, and assault rifles. Some of the photographs are reproduced below; the images of the dead Iraqi security personnel are too graphic to display.
The Islamic State maintains the initiative in Anbar province, most of which is under its control. The provincial capital of Ramadi and the town of Haditha remain contested terrain. The Iraqi military, the Awakening, and Iranian-backed Shiite militias have been unable to wrest control of the province from the Islamic state since Fallujah and other cities and towns fell in January 2013.
Photographs from Baghdadi: