Having ditched the Yazidi rescue pretext for the new US war in Iraq, after discovering there weren’t really many Yazidis to rescue in the first place, the US has reportedly set its sights on the Anbar Province, site of some of the bloodiest US battles during the previous occupation.
In an interview with Reuters, Anbar Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi confirmed meetings with US diplomats and senior military officials, and secured a promise of not only air strikes against ISIS holdings in the province, but a military presence on the ground.
“No date was decided but it will be very soon and there will be a presence for the Americans in the western area,” Dulaimi confirmed. ISIS controls materially all of the Anbar Province at this point.
Anbar was the first major territorial gain for ISIS in Iraq, way back in January when they seized Fallujah and Ramadi, the main cities in the province. Since then, they’ve expanded, and were believed to have recently taken the Haditha Dam, one of the last sites outside their control in the province.
The US launched several major invasions of Fallujah during the last war, in both 2003 and in 2004, During Operation Phantom Fury, the last of the sieges, the US Marines invaded the city in a battle that left an estimated 1,500 insurgents and 800 civilians dead, along with 95 US troops.
Anbar is also the site of the city of Haditha, where in 2005 US Marines carried out the notorious Haditha Massacre, where they killed 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, in response to an IED explosion that killed a solider near the city.
In addition to being the ISIS heartland in Iraq, the checkered history of US military operations in the major cities suggest troops will not be particularly welcomed in this new invasion. The Pentagon has yet to confirm the details of the plan, but Governor Dulaimi’s comments suggest it is already a done deal, and will begin with airstrikes before expanding to a ground war.