Iraq’s Security Forces (ISF) have launched a major operation around the city of Fallujah in the western province of Anbar. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that a combination of ISF units including Ground Forces, Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, Iraqi Army Aviation (IAA), Ministry of Interior Forces, and tribal elements are participating in the effort. According to the MoD, the operation was launched from the Sichar area in the north, Mazraa in the east, and Naimiyah in the south. Naimiyah is close to the Fallujah Dam which has recently been closed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) causing flooding around Fallujah. An unnamed source within the Anbar Operations Command (AOC) confirmed the operation.
The MoD statement also added that the attack will include a push to retake the Tufaha Bridge, which is in east Fallujah. The CTS announced that the Tufaha Bridge was retaken and a source added that 11 members of ISIS were killed during that operation. Furthermore, the anti-government Tribal Military Council in Fallujah stated on its social media outlet that its members responded to the attack, inflicting losses against the security forces and launching a counter attack.
Also, an anonymous source from the Iraqi Police in Anbar stated that the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army (IA) requested from the directorates the suspension of internet and cell phone services in Ramadi and Fallujah until a further notice. This is intended to prevent the communication between armed groups as the operation gets underway.
Meanwhile, the commander of IA Aviation, General Hamid Atiya al-Maliki stated that the “final hour is close” citing the high moral of the soldiers adding that the result will be “splendid” for the people and describing the operation as the “final battle.” Another anonymous source from Fallujah General Hospital stated that the IA forces stationed around the city shelled various areas of Fallujah which resulted in the death of 13 individuals and injured 40 others.
An anonymous source from the AOC stated that the “remaining” of the civilian population started to depart the city through a “safe port” provided for them.
Syrian troops entered the Old City of Homs on Friday and began clearing the ex-rebel bastion of mines as the opposition fighters prepared to pull out
With Homs firmly under its control for the first time in more than two years, the Assad regime has further consolidated its grip on the crucial corridor linking Damascus to Syria's Mediterranean ports.
Homs was the first major city in Syria where the revolt to unseat Assad took root in 2011. Its fall caps a year of regime battlefield successes: regaining the Qalamoun region between Damascus and Homs, driving rebel forces further from central Damascus, and crushing opposition pockets between Homs and Tartous on the coast.
Iranian advisors have played a critical role in reversing the tide against the Assad regime. Initial army offensives against rebel areas exacted high military casualties, which gutted the top brigades and exhausted the troops.
Under Iranian guidance, the Syrian regime has adopted “surrender or starve” siege tactics, surrounding and sealing off rebel neighborhoods and pounding them into submission with air strikes, barrel bombs and artillery.
Hezbollah’s battle-hardened fighters are the “pivotal” spearhead of the regime’s offensive, backed by some 80,000 fighters with the Iran-trained National Defense Force, a mainly Alawite militia, and 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi Shiite volunteers