Iranian-supported militias, including Hezbollah Brigades, a US-listed Foreign Terrorist Organization, are advancing against the Islamic State east of Ramadi. The US is providing air support.
The Islamic State is attacking Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias that have regrouped at Habbaniyah, the last major city between Ramadi and Fallujah.
The Islamic State makes a push in Anbar’s capital and takes control of a district as Iraqi forces and Shiite militias are reportedly preparing an offensive in the western province.
The US has reversed its decision to avoid assisting Iranian-backed Shiite militias and is now providing direct air support in the battle for Tikrit. Many militia leaders and one militia fighting in Tikrit are on the US terrorism list.
A Human Rights Watch report says that the militias looted, burned thousands of buildings, and abducted at least 11 people during the Amerli offensive last summer. “The widespread burning of civilian homes by the militia groups in areas under their control appeared to have had no clear military objective and to represent collective punishment against residents of local Sunni villages,” HRW stated.
Shiite militias closely linked to Iran and Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani have taken control of key towns surrounding the central Iraqi city.
Several photos have been released by the semi-official Iranian news agency Fars showing Qassem Soleimani on the battlefield near Tikrit. Other photos circulating on social media show the leader of the Qods Force with various Shiite militias taking part in the current offensive in central Iraq.
A video posted online shows the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Brigades, a designated terrorist organization, transporting an American-made M1 Abrams tank and other US military equipment in Iraq.